Adam Rogers, WIRED magazine: How The Science Of Colour Made Us Modern
Release Date: 07/12/2021
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We spoke to Adam about his new book Full Spectrum: How The Science of Color Made Us Modern.
In this interview you'll discover that colour is everything. Moreover, how mankind's need to understand and create colours is at the heart of how our species evolves - from philosophy and culture to science and technology.
Full Spectrum is a a lively account of our age-old quest for brighter colors, which changed the way we see the world, from the best-selling author of Proof: The Science of Booze.
From kelly green to millennial pink, our world is graced with a richness of colors. But our human-made colors haven’t always matched nature’s kaleidoscopic array. To reach those brightest heights required millennia of remarkable innovation and a fascinating exchange of ideas between science and craft that’s allowed for the most luminous manifestations of our built and adorned world.
In Full Spectrum, Rogers takes us on that globe-trotting journey, tracing an arc from the earliest humans to our digitized, synthesized present and future. We meet our ancestors mashing charcoal in caves, Silk Road merchants competing for the best ceramics, and textile artists cracking the centuries-old mystery of how colors mix, before shooting to the modern era for high-stakes corporate espionage and the digital revolution that’s rewriting the rules of color forever.
In prose as vibrant as its subject, Rogers opens the door to Oz, sharing the liveliest events of an expansive human quest—to make a brighter, more beautiful world—and along the way, proving why he’s “one of the best science writers around". National Geographic.
From this conversation:
- Who are you?
- I wrote a book called Full Spectrum: How the Science of Color Made Us Modern.
- The basic premise of the book is that there is fundamental science and technology behind the way humans both see and make colors and that the pursuit of that technology has been one of the shaping forces behind human history.
- In 2015 you wrote an article that was read by 38 million people around the world. That article focused on the many subjects in this book. Could you talk of that article?
- Sure that article was an article about The Dress.
- Some people saw that dress as being white with brown trim and some people saw it as being blue with black trim.
- It became like the war of the roses with colors. When people looked at the color of the dress their brains made an assumption.
- The colour that people see: The realm of linguistics. An interesting study by Paul Kay and Brent Berlin.
- Sir Isaac Newton: How light is made up of a spectrum of colours. Light shining through these new optical technologies called prisms.
- Stimulating the human brain "to see colours".
- They were able to induce a specific color in the brain.
- Can we talk of exponential technology and how that is both advancing our understanding of colours and how it is producing new colours? Maybe beginning with Michael Foshey's work at MIT?
- Foshey and Shi were trying to create three dimensional colors.
- Their computer knows something about color that no human knows, some fundamental truth about the science of color that no human knows.
- How do you think the science of colour will evolve with more complex exploration of space?
- Recently NASA sent to the Space Station a very powerful digital camera.
- The company is called Red.
- How aliens who live under different stars may see colour. Maybe what they see is fireworks. Maybe what they see periodically is a beautiful light show.
- Colour is this amazing interaction between the world that exists inside our heads and world that exists outside our heads.
Adam Rogers is the New York Times best-selling author of Proof: The Science of Booze, which was a finalist for the PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award and won the IACP Award for Best Wine, Beer or Spirits Book as well as the Gourmand Award for Best Spirits Book in the United States. He is a deputy editor at Wired, where his feature story "The Angels' Share" won the 2011 AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Award. Before coming to Wired, he was a Knight Science Journalism fellow at MIT and a writer covering science and technology for Newsweek. He lives in Oakland, CA.
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