A Colourful Discourse

This will turn back into a weekly blog again soon, honest. I’m finally starting to get just a little more organised these past few days, so I should be able to make some proper blogging time every week now. Hell, I may even manage a complete run of reviews for the next season of Doctor Who (but don’t hold your breath).

A side affect of this organisation is that I’ve finally got back on top of my washing, despite us not having quite got round to installing the tumble dryer yet; it’s still in its box in the hall, in fact. I enjoy doing relatively mindless domestic tasks like folding my washing because it gives me time to think. Sometimes I even have a good idea or two while I’m working. The other night, I found myself remembering something that happened to me in school. It was back when I was six or seven years old (I can only pinpoint this because I remember which of my teachers was taking the class at the time) and we were having what was allegedly a maths lesson. The theme for the day was colours, and we were having a bit of a lecture when a question was opened to the floor: “Here we have a bunch of colours, how do we sort them?”

A few people took guesses, mostly tending towards sorting the light from the dark ones.

“But how do we tell which are light and which are dark?” asked the teacher. “Different people would give different answers as to which are which.”

This got me thinking to my mum telling me how she sorts the washing, separating the strong colours from the paler ones (which is probably why this one came back to me while folding clothes…). I put my hand up and suggested it and was told the same thing as the kids suggesting light and dark. Fair enough, I suppose.

So there I was, at the age of twenty-two, folding t-shirts at two in the morning, wondering how to sort colours objectively. The only solution I could come up with was by measuring the frequency of light rays reflected off coloured objects and defining cut-off points, sorting the colours by arbitrary brackets within the electromagnetic spectrum. I don’t think anyone suggested this at the time. For one thing, nobody seemed to think that the wave nature of light was worth discussing before we started studying for our GCSEs. For some reason, I can’t remember the conclusion of the lesson in question and what paper exercise we did to drill the point into our minds. Knowing me, I probably thought the answer the teacher gave was stupid and put it out of my mind. The only thing I did learn that lesson was that it’s nigh on impossible to objectively measure colour.


~ by Scary Rob on 22 October, 2007.

One Response to “A Colourful Discourse”

  1. That seems to be a heavy lesson for six year olds !!

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