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TrumpetPower!'s Avatar Jump to comment 13 by TrumpetPower!

Richard, I don’t know if you’re aware of it or not, but some women are tetrachromats, with additional sensitivity between the red and green portions of the spectrum.

And, as I have no doubt you’re aware, we only see an incredibly narrow band of the spectrum — all of about an octave, centered around the peak output of the sun (fancy that). Other animals can see farther into the infrared and ultraviolet than we can. The research that Nastika referred to points to the possibility of engineering such photoreceptors into a human. Or, even more intriguing, the possibility of engineering photoreceptors that don’t yet exist. Would the brain know what to do with the information? I rather suspect it would.

As an amateur photographer who’s spent some time trying to make accurate reproductions of artwork, I’ve become fascinated with color science. I’ve measured many, many color swatches with a spectrophotometer and plotted their spectral characteristics. It’s changed the way I look at color. Similar to how somebody with perfect pitch can hear a complex chord and spell out all the notes that comprise it, I’m pretty sure that somebody with sufficient training could look at a color and draw a reasonably-accurate spectrograph of it. It would take a lot of practice, much more than the time I’ve put into it, myself. But I’ll bet you a beer that it could be done.

Going back to my earlier point…if I were to design the eye, I’d have much more than just three (four if you include rods) kinds of photoreceptors. The three we have overlap each other somewhat in sensitivity, which is a good thing. I’d have a dozen (or more) overlapping photoreceptors, covering the spectrum from the far infrared to the far ultraviolet. (Much beyond that, and there both isn’t much that’s bright enough to observe and the optics get tricky with the size of the eye.) You’d see flowers the way a bee does. You’d see where all the heat is leaking into and out of your house where the insulation isn’t up to par. You also wouldn’t be satisfied with color TV or magazine prints any more, as they’d look cartoonish due to lack of color. At the same time, subtle variations in color would be easy to see. And so much more….



Sat, 12 Jun 2010 15:16:56 UTC | #479618