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The Forbidden Colors Your Eyes Can’t See

even bother making reddish green or yellowish blue colors. Your eyes simply
can’t see them:

Red-green and yellow-blue are the so-called "forbidden colors."
Composed of pairs of hues whose light frequencies automatically cancel
each other out in the human eye, they’re supposed to be impossible to
see simultaneously.

The limitation results from the way we perceive color in the first
place. Cells in the retina called "opponent neurons" fire
when stimulated by incoming red light, and this flurry of activity tells
the brain we’re looking at something red. Those same opponent neurons
are inhibited by green light, and the absence of activity tells the
brain we’re seeing green. Similarly, yellow light excites another set
of opponent neurons, but blue light damps them. While most colors induce
a mixture of effects in both sets of neurons, which our brains can decode
to identify the component parts, red light exactly cancels the effect
of green light (and yellow exactly cancels blue), so we can never perceive
those colors coming from the same place.

Link | Impossible Colors at Wikipedia

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January 19th, 2012

Stranger to the World


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