Eye of the Beholder

pixabay - natureworks

pixabay – natureworks

I don’t know why the science of light and color caught my attention. Perhaps it’s the fantastical element of how this intricate world works that intrigues me. The initial leap sent my imagination cartwheeling. Another perceptual shift in reality and possibility. More inspiration.

My first memory of the nature of color is the moment I learned that when we interpret something as being “red,” the object is actually all the colors except “red.” Red is the merely the wavelength of light the object reflects. This rule applies to every person and thing entering our vision – we see reflected light, not what is absorbed, not the “color” they are, not the solid objects at all.

Well, in my little pea-brain, that’s mind-blowing.

pixabay public domain pictures

pixabay public domain pictures

Waves of light are received by the unique cones and rods in our retinas and interpreted by our one-of-a-kind brains. Each eye has about 6-7 million cones that receive intense levels of light and create the sensation of color. Each eye also has about 120 million peripheral rods, which are more sensitive to dim light and transmit black and white information to the brain. This is why nightfall drains the color of the day. It’s not magic after all.

Biologically, what I see is different from what you see. Red to me is different from red to you. It’s all interpretation, perception, not of solid objects and entities but of waves of light. As I look around my living room this morning, I shift my perception, aware that I see only light beams.

It’s all light, all perception, beauty in the eye of the beholder.

So where does this science take me? Straight into fantasy, of course.

pixabaystevebidmead

pixabay – stevebidmead

When writing The Melding of Aeris, I researched the visual perception of animals. In the book, humans have developed the ability to graft animal skin, scale, horns, other stuff, and eyes to their bodies. (I know, weird, but that’s me). I learned that although humans discern a broader spectrum of colors than most mammals, many animals perceive color better than we, see sharper and farther or have vision highly attuned to movement. A variety of birds, fish and insects see the shorter wavelengths of ultraviolet light invisible to the human eye.

Well that’s cool. What else can’t we “see?”

pixabay geralt

pixabay geralt

Centuries after Newton first observed that color is not inherent in objects, our scientists experiment with bending waves of light. Since all we see is reflected light, it makes sense that if we bend it around something, we render that thing invisible. In The Bone Wall, a few characters have developed the ability to manipulate light waves. Of course, to my thinking, if we have the skill to bend light, why not waves of sound and heat as well? I travel that path without a second thought.

I’ve always liked musing about perception, chipping away at the borders of what I imagine is real. I like watching science “discover” what ancient wisdom has been teaching for thousands of years. We all experience those laughable moments when science proves a truth we already know. At the same time, I relish my eye-opening moments when science flints a spark of creativity and leaves me with the question, “What if?”

 

 

102 thoughts on “Eye of the Beholder

  1. joanneeddy says:

    Color in light always makes me think how light that is called white is transparent but if it goes through a prism becomes a full spectrum of color. I created a program for teens on probation called PRISM for two reasons first as an acronym for Probation, Rehabilitation, Intensive Services, and Management, but more importantly for the idea that we too often see troubled teens in black and white and I wanted us to re-image them with all their possibilities. My other thought about light comes from C.S. Lewis’ idea that angels are beings of light and moving at the speed of light can be in the past and the present simultaneously. Makes understanding eternity different, too. Thank you, Diana, for the reminder…love the concept of your book! Jo

    Liked by 1 person

    • I wish I knew more about the time-light speed connection because it is so cool. Then I wonder if our theories are absolutes or just the extent of our comprehension at this time. Love work with PRISM, Jo. We all need to look beyond the outer shells into the heart of possibility. Thanks so much for the visit 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • joanneeddy says:

        I think our theories aren’t absolute…just a part (vision through a glass, darkly) of what can only really be seen in the infinite, little pieces of the absolute. Yet, I also wonder what an infinite being would think of how being finite shapes our vision. Years ago John Travolta made a strange, funny, touching fantasy movie directed by Nora Ephron called Michael about the archangel who comes to do a task and gets caught up in our vices…and then gets involved with some media guys. Walks the line well between witty and poignant.You always make me think…and reminisce. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. kalabalu says:

    Eyes can see..but not really ..brains does..and eyes transmits..still ..we say eyes see..

    Liked by 1 person

    • Of course, you’re right. That’s true of all our senses. If you think about it, even our skin is just a receptor and it’s the brain that processes the sensation and decides what the “feel” is. Our bodies are amazingly creations 🙂 Thanks so much for the visit.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I love this stuff, Diana, I have no idea why I didn’t see this post the day it came out! But all the very best science fiction comes from deeper understanding of everyday things. I wonder if that’s why we didn’t have science fiction until the 1800s – because the sciences weren’t common knowledge enough to the sort of thinkers who made the fiction. Before that, it was all magic, wasn’t it?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I never thought of how recent a genre science fiction is. I really like the intersection of ancient wisdom and modern science. That old saying “Travel far enough West and you find yourself in the East.” So much great fodder for fiction. Thanks for the visit and comment, as always!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Spine tingling. This article is fantastic. I remember reading Fabric of the Cosmos by Brian Greene and was totally blown away when I realised that everything we ‘see’ is just what our brain is interpreting inside our own heads, but I must have ever bridged the gap about how the colours we see are just reflected light, and not the true colour! I wonder what everything truly looks like

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the comment, Millie. There is so much cool info about matter and perception. I also love the idea that we are not actually solid, but a bunch of vibrating particles. As I understand it, the experience of “solid” is just a different vibrational frequency. I’ll have to research that a bit more – maybe another book idea in there 🙂 Thanks for the visit and the book recommendation! Have a great day.

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      • I’ve totally read somewhere about how a bunch of scientists are theorising that the universe is actually two-dimensional, but frequencies make us perceive this world as three dimensional. Imagine that – the world really is flat hahaha. The two-dimensional theory also always the existence of parallel worlds to be possible. I’ve always found it interesting to realise that while it’s possible to go forward in time (Einstein’s special relativity) and still exist is the same ‘world’, the act of going back in time itself means you will be entering a parallel world from the moment you leave (and there is no returning to your ‘original reality’.) It’s a conundrum I’ve come across while researching my new book (where someone goes back in time). So confusing!

        Liked by 1 person

        • But so fun!! And depending on what you write, science can just be the jumping off point. Some of the theories sound so improbable , but they create opportunities for the imagination to go wild!

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        • philipparees says:

          Before I had THE seminal experience of my life, in which the entire physical world dissolved I saw the two dimensional nature of reality and commemorated it in this way
          Before its birth ( the appearance of the pregnant nothing) it drew aside the curtain of the real/ By an incision in the landscape; shattered spikes of surface glass/ Slid on lasers sideways, and completely disappeared..

          I now ‘see’ the external world as relative to the state of consciousness observing it. We have a consensus 3D vision, but in other states it alters (or disappears completely) Relativity describes consciousness and not the external world?

          Liked by 2 people

          • So sorry for the late reply, Philippa. (I’m functioning on vacation brain). I know others who’ve had a similar experience, not the 2-dimensional part, but the dissolving of solid matter into visible light/energy. It had a profound impact, to say the least. I completely agree that the external world is reflective of the observer, and often a matter of consensus versus reality. 🙂 Your comments are thought-provoking. Thank you!

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  5. It seems to me some time back I read where scientists are working on a real version of Harry Potter’s invisibility cape that involved bending light waves. That would be scary if it fell into the wrong hands. Good piece, Diana. 🙂 — Suzanne

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Sacha Black says:

    Wicked cool post. Love science, and anything unusual or thought provoking. I remember some of this stuff from school – especially the rods and cones. Like the fact, we actually can only perceive colour in the centre of our eyes – 90% of our eyes can only see black and white – our periphery – and thats so that we can see movement. SO COOL!!!! This is a timely post too. Somehow my eyes (which have worn glasses for 18 years) miraculously recovered. Been taking some particular vitamins and minerals and if it weren’t for the fact I am astigmatic, I would barely need glasses any more!!! WTF?! How have my eyes recovered. Don’t things get worse with age?! Like I said, wicked cool post.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. inesephoto says:

    Isn’t it amazing that all the creatures see the world different? How thoughtfully is the Universe designed!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. reocochran says:

    I think including the idea of colors, light and perception in your book, “The Bone Wall” was an incredible idea. What helps people remember books is the details.
    This sounds wonderful, Diana.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Robin. I like it that the world is larger than our limited perceptions can comprehend. Light and color has always fascinated me. So beautiful. Thanks for the visit. Hope you have a wonderful Sunday 🙂

      Like

  9. There’s nothing I’d rather ponder than color.:0) I very much enjoyed this post.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Brilliant stuff! Many men in my family are colorblind. And they remind me often that they see things differently than me. One Christmas I wore a bright green dress that I thought was just lovely. My 10-year-old son at the time said to me-with horror- why are you wearing that dress? To him it was a muddy brown. 😖

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Don’t be shy , You say! Well, after reading half these comments and seeing you creative post I am shy! And intimidated! But here goes.

    I, too, would love seeing music as colors. And as a neuro nurse know of stroke patients who had sensory deficits that made life difficult. Not the nice kind of defiicits. But mistaking toothbrushes for combs and that kind of thing.

    The brain is magnificent. And frail. we need t take care of it. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the comment, Clara. Yes, magnificent and frail is the truth! As I get older and my physical capabilities wane, I become ever more grateful for the cognitive (magical) world where I live. Bless you for the work you do 🙂 And don’t be shy! Thanks so much for the visit and for adding to the conversation. Have a great weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Aquileana says:

    Are colours an objective quality or just an illusion… I am also amazed by them and the way we perceive them…
    Great post… sending best wishes. Aquileana 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Colors are wavelengths of light and not inherent in objects (as I understand it). In a way, they’re an illusion… or interpretation. All we see in rainbows. Isn’t that cool? Thanks so much for the visit. Have a great weekend 🙂

      Like

  13. Nick Verron says:

    Great post, very thought provoking.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Dawn D says:

    Reading this post (I love colours, I love senses, how could I not?) I realised a few things. You are totally right, your perception of red is different from mine. Someone I know is struggling because he is colour blind and the book we’re learning from uses colour to differentiate between different notions.
    As for distorting sound… what do you think these supersonic planes do? 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    • Great photo, Dawn. Sound is different underwater too. You can’t tell the direction it comes from. I can imagine how frustrated your friend gets with color-coded material. About 8% of men are color blind, so your friend is not alone. Thanks for visiting and have a day filled with colorful light:-)

      Liked by 1 person

      • Dawn D says:

        I know about sound underwater. Light is very different too, and lots of fish look dull when in reality, with brighter, white light, they are look sorts of colours.
        being underwater, the main sound you hear is your breathing from the scuba. It is easy to get disoriented, especially when there is no sun in the sky and no landscape changes to look out for.
        I love the peace that comes with it though. Being surrounded by a school of barracudas is one of the great experiences of my life.

        Liked by 1 person

  15. Fascinating stuff, Diana. I love anything to do with light and how we perceive. I think back to things they tried to teach me in school and how I switched off at some of it and yet now could devour it. Maybe if they had taught it the way you have here it would have been right up my street – the realms of fantasy and possibility married with fact. That would have been a class to attend. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  16. What fascinating research. I love digging into that sort of material–difference between species. It definitely provides perspective when evaluating others.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Science, fiction, and art are so closely related. It baffles me why some education systems can’t/don’t utilize that and spark interest and creativity in students. Rather make science seem an isolate magic unable to be understood and art/writing the tools of only a rare few.
    As a kid just the thought of light traveling across the universe for years – or that atoms making up stuff are constantly moving and items are not “solid” although they seem so. Such wonder.
    Lucky there are those that see and write!
    Post of wonder. Thanks

    Liked by 1 person

  18. tedgiffin says:

    Uh oh, you are about to get me going. I certainly like that I interpret emotions out of color. And as far as sound, I think a lot about it. I can see sound waves on the computer and I also feel the music creating heat in my recording room, apart from the physical act of playing an instrument. Well, there is my two sense in the ultraviolet color wheel bucket.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, I can imagine that a musician’s sensitivity to waves translates beyond sound. That’s cool, Ted. I wouldn’t be surprised one tiny bit if we eventually discover that emotion and thought are also transmitted in waves. Thanks for the awesome comment 😀 😀 😀

      Like

  19. joannesisco says:

    I didn’t know this about perception of colour.
    … but then again, I think most things involving physics, light, wavelengths, etc are in the realm of magic 🙂

    It is very interesting though how you can take a concept like light waves and create characters with powers and weave a story around it. I consider that magic too 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha ha. It all is magical to me too, Joanne, even after learning about the science. There’s something called synesthesia where brain signals get crossed. A sensory experience stimulates other sensory experiences. So the color blue might stimulates a sound, number, smell or tactile sensation. Music may manifest a visual display of colors. It’s biological, but so magical. I love this stuff – it gets the imagination rolling 🙂 Thanks for the visit and comment. Have a wonderful day full of light.

      Like

      • joannesisco says:

        I’ve read and seen shows about people with this sensory “crossing”. I’ve always thought it would be so cool to see sounds as colours. I’m very, very sensitive to sound and I’m so curious what it would translate into.

        Liked by 1 person

  20. balroop2013 says:

    Hi Diana,

    Isn’t it amazing…the way we see colors? Sometimes I wonder what if we couldn’t see colors the way they are! Life could have been so dull!
    This post reminds me of an interesting anecdote. One day I was wearing deep purple dress and my sister was wearing sky blue and my brother says: ‘why both of you are wearing blue today?’ I had a hard time explaining to him the difference, which he refused to see!
    Yes! “It’s all light, all perception, beauty in the eye of the beholder.” Loved your observations. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • When I was researching this, Balroop, I saw a statistic that said that about 8% of men and 1% of women see colors differently (color “blindness”). That may explain your brothers perception. Thanks for visiting and have a lovely light-filled day 🙂

      Like

  21. Great read, thank you! I, like others here, have night driving issues. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Bernadette says:

    Dianne, This is an interesting peak into your creative process and what inspires your imagination.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Bernadette. My creative sunbursts come from a lot of different places, but learning cool stuff is definitely one of them. I could easily be a lifelong student 🙂 Thanks so much for reading and commenting!

      Like

  23. This post explains allot! I love your explanation of our perception and color! Wow an eye is an amazing thing!! I never knew all of this and it explains why one person sees something one way-color and another sees it totally different, I suppose as in all perceptions! Very enlightening!

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Carrie Rubin says:

    It is pretty mind-boggling, isn’t it? Unfortunately, my rods have taken a nose-dive. Night-driving for me is not fun. Guess I’ll have to get some of those night-vision glasses the drugstores sell. I’ll look super cool, I’m sure.

    By the way, I’ve been meaning to ask you, do you have any books outside of the fantasy genre? You mentioned you have six traditionally published novels, so I was just wondering.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Annika Perry says:

    Diana, I felt the same wow factor too when I first learnt that we actually never see the colour which we witness! It was as if I’d been conned all those years – but then my mind loved it! How wondrous, amazing – I love your extension of this and of bending not just light, but heat, sound. May the creative days of ‘what ifs’ reign forever!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Annika. Life is a little like a con job, isn’t it? We get to see a little tiny sliver of the wonder in order to function, and yet it’s so much more spectacular 🙂 Thanks for the comment. Have a wonderful day full of colorful light beams.

      Like

  26. babbitman says:

    Here’s one of them there coincidences I love: we’ve been watching a series about how the brain works and the latest one was based around “what is reality?”. This is all about how the brain makes sense of the information coming in via electrical signals sent from the skin, nose, eyes, ears, tongue, etc. If you like Diana’s post I think you’ll love it (UK viewers can pick it up on iPlayer). See this link for more info: http://www.eagleman.com/research/11-david-eagleman/113-the-brain-pbs
    🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Loved this post! Science has always intrigued me even when some of the lingo flies right over my head. I’ve recently watched a video on the idea of multi-universes and by the end of the video my brain was spinning with all these possibilities 🙂 It’s really crazy to think about what more can be beyond our own galaxy or even our own universe!

    Liked by 1 person

  28. cindy knoke says:

    I love an imagination that cartwheels. Wonderful!

    Liked by 1 person

  29. kaptonok says:

    Blue and yellow when mixed give green. Is there such a colour as true green corresponding to light of green wavelength? If there is why does the eye respond in the same way to a made up green as a true green.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. ghostmmnc says:

    I’m always interested in these scientific topics. Funny to think a color I see is the color someone else see, yet different. Lots to think about!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is interesting. In a way, it doesn’t matter too much. We can both be happy identifying a sweater as “red” even if we see it differently. Strange though that the sweater isn’t actually red, it’s just the length of the light wave bouncing off it and the cones in our eyes interpreting the wavelength. I can make myself dizzy with this stuff! Have a great day. Thanks for the visit 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • ghostmmnc says:

        Oh it is fascinating! Every time you find out one thing that staggers the imagination, you have more questions about it. I can fall down the proverbial rabbit hole, chasing one interesting fact after another! 🙂 … Thanks for whetting our appetite for more! Enjoy your evening, Diana!

        Liked by 1 person

  31. Ocean Bream says:

    What a fascinating read. I have often wondered this myself. It is particularly interesting that an object is every other colour than the colour we see it as!

    Liked by 1 person

  32. philipparees says:

    Might you go further and consider the possibility that there is a collective ‘eye’ (of the beholders) in which the world of form takes its shapes? Our agreement about it might be what stabilises it, until we question it? As you do.

    Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, I can go there so easily, Philippa. The ability to manifest within one life is powerful, collectively it’s almost beyond comprehension. So much of what we perceive is by mutual agreement. It’s helpful to question and think outside the established boundaries 🙂 Thanks so much for the comment. Have a lovely and light day!

      Like

  33. Really interesting post. That idea that what we see is what something reflects, rather than what it is… that’s a whole perspective-changer!

    Liked by 1 person

  34. Fascinating, our perception of color. My husband favors what he calls red, the shade which to me is maroon, burgundy, plum, etc. He hates “true red”. You have spoken often of your interest in light. Nice post, D. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  35. Love it. My mind goes the same paths yours does. I read on something science has “discovered” and I start thinking about all the many possibilities that discovery can birth.

    Liked by 1 person

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