At the core of good science and engineering is the careful and respectful treatment of data. We calibrate our instruments, scrutinize the algorithms we use to process the data, and study the behavior of the models we use to interpret the data or simulate the phenomena we may be observing. Surprisingly, this careful treatment of data often breaks down when we visualize our data.
That Homer used the epithet "wine-dark" to describe the sea in the Iliad and Odyssey so puzzled 19th Century English Prime Minister William Gladstone that he thought the Ancient Greeks must have been colorblind. Since then many other solutions have been proposed. Scientists have argued that Ancient Greek wine was blue and some scholars have put forward the case that Homer was describing the sea at sunset. Radiolab devoted a segment to the exploration of this issue, saying that Gladstone was partly right. Another interpretation is that the Ancient Greeks focused on different aspects of color from us. Classicist William Harris' short essay about purple in Homer and Iliad translator Caroline Alexander's longer essay The Wine-like Sea make the case for this interpretation.
For years now, the primary way of representing and storing color on a computer display has been to define it as existing in three dimensions: Red, Green, and Blue. What if that's wrong? “While the appearance of a color on a screen can be described in three dimensions, the blending of color actually is happening in a six dimensional space,” How Fifty-Three, developers of the iPad painting app Paper, used a theory of paint optics from 1931 to develop a better color mixer.
The crayola-fication of the world: How we gave colors names, and it messed with our brains -- A two-part essay about (part I) how perception of colors affects our naming of colors which (part II) affects our perception of colors. Guest celebrities include Darwin's children, xkcd, a mantis shrimp, and Benjamin Whorf.
How language affects our perception of colour...(SYTL) more on the 'linguistic relativity hypothesis' here and here
Do you see what I see? Do people always see the same thing when they look at colours?
The average human eye has three types of cone cells, each of which is sensitive to a different wavelength range of visible light. The difference in the relative signal from the three cones allows us to distinguish colors. Unfortunately, since these sensitivity ranges overlap, there are some combinations of signals from the cones that can't be created by light emitted from a real object. These are the so-called "imaginary colors". However, by selectively overstimulating one or more types of cone, we can still perceive these colors; this is the principle behind the Eclipse of Titan, an optical illusion which produces both a green and a cyan that don't otherwise appear in nature. (Similar effects can be seen in the Eclipses of Mars, Neptune, and Triton.) [more inside]
Color Is Relative, pretty and interesting eye candy created by Gabriel Mott, is a website dedicated to showing luminosity achieved through simple color combinations. On the site, the image is interactive. By moving the mouse over a single swatch the background color of the page will change to the same color. [more inside]