Have you seen the following video from New Scientist’s awesome YouTube channel flying around the web? Take a look and then we’ll show you why it’s much more than just a curiosity… and why there are no red cars.

Whaaaaaaat? You might ask. This is the outcome of a project by Hungarian programmer/artist József Fejes. He created the program that generates images using nearly 17 million different colors with no two pixels the same color! He calls them “rainbow smoke”.

This was part of a competition called the allRGB Project, where the object is to “create images with one pixel for every RGB color (16777216); not one color missing, and not one color twice.” Other participants created images that met the contest objectives by recreating famous works of art like the Mona Lisa or the classic photo of Einstein with his tongue out. To have a look at some others, click here. Some are absolutely breathtaking, and all use color in the most extraordinary way.

But what is color?

Image: Computer generated color images

Source: JOCO

It’s not a thing. As I mentioned, there are no red cars, the sky is not blue, nor the grass green. The color we see is the color that reflects off of any surface. Confused? Most of us think of color in third-grade terms but the truth is actually fascinating and fun. Color is part chemistry, part physics, and mostly the biology of our brain systems.

Wait, wait, wait! Even if you are not a science buff…this will change the way you look at everything and there are three very short videos that will make you the smartest person on the deck when you are watching a sunset. These first two are from one of our favorite channels, TED-Ed. Go check them out after this article! But first, take a look…

Via: TED-Ed 2

So now that you understand why color is not a thing, here’s where your brain comes into the picture…

Via: TED-Ed 3

Now I watch those first two videos, and the subject is all wrapped up for me, but I found a very fun gal on the web who calls herself Physics Girl who can explain it even more!

This next video is the winning entry for the 2014 Flame Challenge put on by Alan Alda and the Center for Communicating Science. The competition is judged by 27,000 5th graders from around the world. What a great challenge! And I really think that the Physics Girl channel puts the first two videos in a way any of us can totally get!  Keep the 5th grader aspect in mind but have a look! It’s so fun!

Who knew? I’ve been a science geek my whole life and I don’t think I understood this subject nearly as well as I thought!

Now can you see why there are no red cars? There are only cars with paint that reflect red light waves back to our eyes. That same paint absorbs all the other colors of light waves so we don’t see them. Get it? I might have to review this myself, but in the meanwhile, I’m a lot smarter about the wonder of a green lawn and a crystal blue sky.

Have a great day, and make sure you stay open, curious and hopeful!

~ Dr. Lynda

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  1. New Scientist. “Computer Paints Images with Millions of Colours.” YouTube. New Scientist, 5 Mar. 2014. Web. 5 June 2015. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JBk6McexwKg>.
  2. Kelleher, Colm. “What Is Color? – Colm Kelleher.” YouTube. TED-Ed, 18 Dec. 2012. Web. 5 June 2015. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UZ5UGnU7oOI>.
  3. Kelleher, Colm. “How We See Color – Colm Kelleher.” YouTube. TED-Ed, 8 Jan. 2013. Web. 5 June 2015. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l8_fZPHasdo>.
  4. Physics Girl. “What Is Color? Flame Challenge Winner 2014.” YouTube. Physics Girl, 10 May 2014. Web. 5 June 2015. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Um0ZXhrQUJ4>.

Dr. Lynda is a dentist, artist, global traveler, and philanthropist who looks for potential and shares it with the world. Hear her latest conversations with thought leaders on the Conspiracy of Goodness Podcast--new episodes every Wednesday!