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Why isn't there a seam on the color wheel?    2012

One might expect to find it somewhere between red and violet. If the visible spectrum is measured as decreasing wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation, from red (620-750 nm) to violet (380-450 nm), from the lowest frequencies to the highest, placing red and violet at opposing "edges" of this spectrum, why aren't red and violet qualitatively more dissimilar? Instead of this dissimilarity, one finds the same continuity between red and violet that one finds between any other adjacent areas on the color wheel.

Imagine somewhere beyond the rainbow, beyond the colors, beyond the visible light available to the human eye. Between infrared and ultraviolet, “seeing discovers color”.  It is in this space that we are given the experience of the visible world. But we can also imagine what might be discovered beyond this spectrum, beyond its constraints, beyond the ends of a continuum that appear distinct, if not in opposition."


We asked members of the Brown faculty from across disciplines to respond to this question. Click here to find out what they had to say.