Sunday, February 6, 2011

Colors in Our World are a Manifestation of Our Inner Properties

Visual Pigments
During the 1800's the visual pigments were discovered in the retina. Scientists, working by candlelight, dissected the retinas from frog eyes. When the retinas were exposed to day light they changed color. These scientists had discovered that the retina is photosensitive. They realized that the color they were observing was due to presence of a visual pigment, which was given the name rhodopsin. Later studies showed that rhodopsin is a protein that is found in the disks of the rod cell membrane.

Pigments are also found in cone cells. There are three types of cone cells, each of which contains a visual pigment. These pigments are called the red, blue or green visual pigment. The cone cells detect the primary colors, and the brain mixes these colors in seemingly infinitely variable proportions so that we can perceive a wide range of colors. Prolonged exposure to colors, for example when staring at a particular object, can cause fatigue in cone cells. 

This results in a change in the way that you perceive the color of the object that you are viewing. You will find a demonstration of the color fatigue effect on the Exploratorium's "Bird in a Cage" Web page.