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Horizon: Do you see the same colours as me?

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Sophie Robinson Sophie Robinson | 14:35 UK time, Monday, 8 August 2011

Back in April this year I was called to a brainstorm with the Horizon production team to discuss the science of colour.

It seemed like such a fun and compelling idea and addresses the kind of questions we've all asked ourselves. Do you see the same colours that I see? What if what I see as yellow, you really see as blue? And why do I fancy you more in red?

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Scientists and contributors answer the question "What is your favourite colour?"

Clearly the intelligent questions of a scientific mind... but these really are some of the questions that scientists all over the world are asking. And, as the show's director, I jumped at the chance to make this episode and find some answers.

As we looked deeper into the scientific research, the more we found that this is a world which is just beginning to be properly explored. The scientists were bright, curious, often rather quirky, and full of fascinating discoveries.

One of the first people we met was neuroscientist Beau Lotto - a master of illusions who wanted to do an experiment to find out whether people of different ages, gender and nationality see colours in the same way.

Eight weeks later, there we were with 150 people, filming the Beau Lotto colour experiment bonanza.

The volunteers took part in eight different experiments veering from whether colour had an impact on time passing, to looking at how people made different colour patterns in mosaics, to what emotions people associated with different colours - red for anger, blue for tranquillity?

The results shocked even the scientist involved. Beau found that colour really can impact the passing of time.

Volunteers were asked to stand in three different colour pods bathed in either blue, red or white light, and Beau found that blue light made time pass more quickly and red seemed to slow it down.

"Red makes us highly aware of our environment and so time slows down in your mind," he says.

Another experiment found that women who are made to feel more psychologically powerful and in control were more sensitive to spotting changes in colour illumination.

Overall it seemed that depending on the experience we bring with us, our perceptions of colour can vary from person to person.

Beau says, "In thinking about 'do you see what I see', the answer depends on what it is we're looking at. If it's something that's shaped by our own individual experiences, then we can see the world very differently."

We really do perceive colours differently depending on experience, age and state of mind.

Dr Beau Lotto

Dr Beau Lotto

Something else we found was that there were scientists looking at whether language can influence the way we perceive colour. Could the number of words you have for colour affect the way you perceive it?

The only way to find out was to go to a civilisation far from the technicolour world we live in, to a tribe who have only five words for colour, compared to the 11 essential colour categories.

The Himba of northern Namibia - who had never even set foot in a local town - call the sky black and water white, and for them, blue and green share the same word.

In having fewer words than us for colour, it seems that their perception of the world is different to ours - it takes them longer to differentiate between certain colours, and so we can determine from this that they see the world a little differently.

The tribe found us a bit of an oddity - they hadn't been filmed before - so when I played them back the footage we had filmed they thought it was the most hysterical thing they had every seen.

And what about the effects colours might have on us?

Scientists Russell Hill and Iain Greenlees were looking into the 'winning effect' of the colour red. They organised an experiment to see if wearing red might have an impact in sport.

They set up a penalty shoot out with 48 footballers looking at whether it was wearing red or seeing red that made the difference.

They found that the men wearing red had lower levels of cortisol, the hormone for stress, than those in blue or white. This in turn makes them more confident in their game.

These are just a few examples of the people we met and filmed. The whole thing was a technicolour experience that made us see the world through different eyes - and more than that, made us realise there's more to come.

This, for once, is a relatively new subject in the world of science, so there are many more discoveries to be made.

So when you get up tomorrow, look around you. Think about what colours you are going to wear and think about the colours you see - do you really see what I see? Probably not.

Sophie Robinson is the director and producer of Horizon: Do You See What I See?

Horizon: Do You See What I See? is on BBC Two and BBC HD at 9pm on Monday, 8 August.

Beau Lotto has written about how we perceive colour for BBC News.

Comments made by writers on the BBC TV blog are their own opinions and not necessarily those of the BBC.


  • Comment number 1.

    There's a mistake in the accompanying article headed "Do You See What I See?" posted today on the BBC's Science and Environment pages at 11:31am. About halfway down there's a colour persistence demo of a desert scene to be viewed after staring at green & red blocks -- you see inverse colour casts, of course, a red cast where you were staring at green and vice versa. But the 'Results' button above the images shows the result the wrong way round, and the paragraph purporting to explain the effect is utterly garbled! Please check and correct, BBC!

  • Comment number 2.

    Sophie, in the related news article, there was a picture of a supposed optical illusion. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-14421303
    In it was are told that the tiles in the left and right hand pictures are the same colour despite looking blue and yellow for each different picture. In the top two images, the tiles all looked identical colours, so I assumed it was meant the corresponding tiles in the bottom two pictures which do look blue and yellow. I didn't believe that these really were the same colours, so I opened up the picture in Photoshop, zoomed right in and used the colour picker tool. And as my eyes told me, they were indeed quite different shades, one set distinctly blue and one distinctly yellow. Am I missing the point here, or is the picture a big mistake ?

    BTW, this is the most stunning colour optical illusion that I have ever seen.

  • Comment number 3.

    There's a basic logical mistake in the accompanying article, "Do You See What I See?". The article makes the argument that since the colours we see do not correspond one-to-one with the light reflected from or transmitted through surfaces, therefore "colour does not exist", i.e., that our brains create colour and therefore it has no reality in itself. This conclusion is a non sequitur. All the experiments show is that colours are not "made from" light. But no-one ever thought that colours are "made from light", anyway. It is a pretty basic belief that surfaces remain coloured even in the dark. My red car might be parked in my windowless garage with the lights off, but no-one, not even a child, would think that it has suddenly stopped being red. So there is nothing new in the idea that colours are not "made from" light. What the experiments do show is that there are all sorts of *interesting ways*, many now known before, in which colours are not "made from" light. The basic idea, though, is not new. It is a huge (and fallacious) step to conclude that colours are "not real" just because they are "not made from" light. Different surfaces may in fact have lots of different colours, i.e. be coloured in many different ways at the same time, whether there is light around or not. It could just be a *limitation* of our brains that we can only see one at a time. The writers and producers of the Horizon programme, and the journalists who write on the BBC website, and perhaps even the scientists themselves, would clearly probably benefit from some basic logic and philosophy classes!

  • Comment number 4.

    'Colour does not exist' is a statement made in the original article. For us to have the variety of 'colour-experiences' we have there surely is a variety in the cause. We may have misunderstood how our experience of colour is produced but all this means is that we need to change our views as we do regularly in the face of better science. We can still talk about colour and believe it exists just the details of that existence have changed.

  • Comment number 5.

    Aaron , although your post precedes mine in posting time we both must have been posting at the same time otherwise I would have simply posted the following:

    Aaron, exactly!

  • Comment number 6.

    I agree with all the previous comments. Nowhere in the article can I find the idea of "perception". Artists through the centuries have understood the concept of colour perception ie. where the same colour appears to be different depending on what colours surround it. It would seem to me that this apparent "scientific breakthrough" is more the result of some simple science and the "perception" of an overenthusiastic journalist.

    Sorry Beeb but this time, it seems, you have let yourselves down.

  • Comment number 7.

    Hi Matti Lamprhey (#1) and Luke (#2),

    We've spoken to our colleagues in BBC News and they've now corrected the colour persistence demo in the article. Thanks for pointing this out to us.

    Assistant Content Producer
    BBC TV blog

  • Comment number 8.

    My first comment on this program, as someone who is an artist and went to art college, is the section on the blue and red pods experiment. I love burgundy with a passion, therefore if you put me in a red pod, i would simply want to stay longer and drag out my minute. In a blue, dull, non stimulating pod, i would almost want to die with boredom and try and hasten my exit... maybe by counting 1 - 60 slightly faster? More comments to come i feel!

  • Comment number 9.

    How can (as the program suggests) single cell orgaisms move up and down in the sea to avoid UV light. Is this not just a wild guess supporting the many unproven theories in this program.

  • Comment number 10.

    So - any chance of a follow-up programme on Colour Blindness? In particular, since the brain has such an influence on colour perception, could red/green colour blindness be helped (or corrected) by a visiti to north Namibia, to relearn colour language ;o)

  • Comment number 11.

    An interesting and thought-provoking programme, but I believe a few of the conclusions were rather simplistic, if not plain wrong. For example, the claim that being 'in control' rather than 'powerless' allows one to perceive colour change more 'accurately' ignores the well-known psychological behaviour that when under stress decision making - whether right or wrong - takes significantly longer than normal.

  • Comment number 12.

    Very suprised by this program. Just found myself shouting at the tv. Yes we may see the colour the same but feel it differently not only in relation to others but also how we are feeling at the time or the time in our lives. I know when i was a teen I loved black but green is where I would run to now to live with family. Give me the right shade of blue and I would surround myself in it but only if I'm alone. It is too variable. This program answered none of my questions : (

  • Comment number 13.

    Fairly interesting program, particularly when it came to different nationalities, however, in the main i didn't exactly find it enlightening. Watching the dot between red & green blocks above the sky and sand for 60 seconds, changed nothing for me in the landscape scenes below. So either the experiment doesn't work on TV or i must assume that i am just an odd female? I was really looking forward to this documentary, as i have to understand colour for my work, but it didn't come up to my expectations. Sorry BBC2.

  • Comment number 14.

    As an Aura-Soma colour consultant and teacher I found this programme very interesting. The Aura-Soma system of colour was developed by an amazing woman, Vicky Wall, who had lost most of her sight due to diabetes when she developed it. The system works with the vibration/energy of each colour to offer insight to clients in relation to their colour choices. There are now 110, mostly dual, coloured bottles for clients to choose 4 from at the beginning of their consultation. The feedback I've had from clients is always how astonished they are at how acurate the consultation is.

  • Comment number 15.

    Watched with great interest as I am what I was always reliably informed, every time I had my eyes tested and looked at the book of dots by the Japanese guy, as 'colour defective" ( Blue Green)...and indeed was often chastised by those who knew better that 'colour blind ' was a VERY rare condition indeed ...like the Canadian artist on the show...... so I was very surprised to hear the term 'colour blind' used many time in the show about people and behavious other than the one Canadian artist...can you please clarify?
    my thanks in advance

  • Comment number 16.

    A thought provoking programme - thank you for that.
    I'm not sure if I'm unique in this but since a very early age (I am now in my forties) I have strongly associated colours with the days of the week (apart from weekends) as follows:
    Monday = Light Blue
    Tuesday = Red
    Wednesday = Green
    Thursday = Brown
    Friday = Black
    Saturday & Sunday = Maybe Pink.

    Maybe it's just me............

  • Comment number 17.

    Bitterly disappointed by this programme after eagerly anticipating it. The question 'do you see what I see?' fascinates me, but this documentary failed to answer it in any way. Instead it was full of scientific inaccuracies in the VoiceOver (of course colour doesn't change the passage of time;only people's perception of it - this was clarified later on but the ridiculous statement was still made in the first place!) it was also incredibly frustrating to see genuinely interesting experiments (such as the squirrel monkeys and the experiments in Namibia) which lacked the detail necessary to fully understand what they were showing. I may not bother watching horizon again as it seems to be descending into speculative nonsense.

  • Comment number 18.

    Do people see limited colour because they only have the 5 words for colour, or do they only have 5 words because they see limited colour? I think the latter.

    In the experiment with the yellow once you'd pointed out the banana-coloured square, the square and the banana stayed the same colour, both changing with the light. Before you pointed it out, the banana stayed yellow. Very bizarre! Particularly given the short duration of the bit of film.

    I would like to see the experiments - timing a minute, kicking the ball into a net - done with different colours. Is purple different? Orange? Green? Yellow? The idea that the sporting judges opinions are affected by colour is startling, and should be investigated further, don't you think? Before the next Olympics?

    White is not neutral, it is aggressively dull, like a repeated sound.

  • Comment number 19.

    For a supposedly scientific programme, it fails in explaining the methodolgy of the experiments and also fails to question the assumptions. Two comments come to mind:
    1. with the colour pods, it wasn't explained if each person was assigned to just 1 pod, and if they were assigned randomly - in which case the results have some validity. Or did all subjects go into all the pods, and in the same order, e.g. did everyone go into red, then blue, then white - in which case one might expect the subjects to have less patience as they went on and spend less time in the last pod.
    2. the power/perception experiment claimed to show that people who had been thinking about a situation in which they had control perceived changes faster. Not true, as they didn't test perception! They tested when people were confident enough to say they'd perceived a change. It's hardly rocket science to realise that if you're feeling confident, you're likely to indicate immediately when you've seen a change, whereas someone feeling less confident will doubt themselves and hesitate. What the researchers tested was how soon people felt confident enough to say they'd seen a change, NOT how soon they actually saw a change. I.e. they showed that thinking about being confident made people more confident! The researchers themselves should have seen the flaw in their experiment, and the Horizon researchers should also have spotted it, and questioned the methodology, rather than just spouting the results as "proof" that confidence affects perception.

  • Comment number 20.

    I did the tests on the programme. No effect. But then I am colour blind (though not like the woman in the programme). I was amazed that she talked about the effects on her of colours she couldn't even see. I never associate colours with feelings. Haven't a clue what people are on about when they talk about that. As usual the conventionally colour blind were disregarded in programmes like this.

  • Comment number 21.

    In addition to my post above, I am surprised by some of Sophie Robinson's comments at the top of the page. The Namibian people did not take longer than we do to distinguish all colours - in fact they were faster than westerners at distinguishing some colours. On this point too, surely it makes more scientific sense that they develop different language for colour because they see it differently - as opposed to seeing colour differently because they have different language, which is what the programme seemed to suggest. Sophie also states that 'Beau found that colour really can impact the passing of time'... This is not true - the passing of time was clearly not actually affected. Disappointing.

  • Comment number 22.

    great program. something that I've wondered about for years!!!

    the route of my intrigue is that my left eye sees everything with a slightly blue tint - it's been this way for as long as I can remember. Maybe it's no surprise that the optical illusion with the desert scene only partially worked with me - the sky didn't go pink on the left, it was more that the sky on the right became a few shades lighter. And, no, I'm not colour blind.

    Do we really know and can we know if we all actually perceive colours in the same way? In my simplistic world light bounces off an object, enters my eyes, is turned into an electrical signal and then my brain decodes it (slightly differently in each eye in my case). That bit (I think) we know for sure - But can we know for definite whether our brains decode it the same way? most people can point to something blue and say that it's blue - but surely that's because when we were young that label was given to it by someone else for us to use in future?? Apples are green, tomatoes are red, bananas are yellow etc etc etc and now, by association, I know that grass is green, my t-shirt (well today anyway) is blue and so on and so forth. But does that actually prove anything at all other than I can remember those reference points and see similarities in what I perceive around me?

    Consider this - have you ever seen anyone with such bad dress sense that, TO YOU, everything they are wearing clashes?? ....so badly, maybe, that you wonder if they got dressed in the dark? Well, it seems they are having a different experience of those same colours, doesn't it?? They obviously like that combination of lightwave fequencies.... Maybe they see them differently from you?

    For me, this program was great - but merely scratching the surface. Personally I suspect that when we were told "If it's something that's shaped by our own individual experiences, then we can see the world very differently" there is a much greater variance than the makers are allowing for in this statement. If only I could work out how to prove it......

  • Comment number 23.

    I love that Dorethea, white is not neutral, it is aggressively dull, like a repeated sound. thou it may not be correct.

    Why do emergency services use blue? when we associated warnings with red? Blue seems to hit us harder.

    Would love to see that restaurant start its day, say red then change to blue at 10pm.

    So much unsaid in this program. so much to be learnt about colour and how we associate with it. Glad I've got red spa-ing gloves thou.

  • Comment number 24.

    P_Sarad - look up synesthesia. You might find it interesting.

  • Comment number 25.

    "Do you see the same colours as me?". Is it a matter of language, status or gender? I would like to know if any experiments were done to see at what point people perceived red to be orange, orange to be yellow, or mauve to be purple and so on?

  • Comment number 26.

    As one of the scientists whose research was reported by the programme, I'm afraid I have to agree with most of the comments here. Some of the commentary was garbled and frankly a bit nonsensical. Aaron's point is spot on. And as for blue-yellow discrimination being "evolved" while red-green is learned, that's clearly a spurious distinction. Part of the problem may be they only finished filming a few weeks ago, so must have had to rush the script and production.A shame they missed Andrew Elliot's experiments showing various effects of red on behaviour and social perceptions, and work at St Andrews showing health and social perception correlates of between-individual variation in human skin redness and yellowness. Also, work on non-human species on the link between colour, health and social dominance.

  • Comment number 27.

    When they were testing the community about colours and having only 5 names for colour; I recognised which green was a slightly different shade straight away before the lady did. what would that mean about my perception of colour?

  • Comment number 28.

    Enjoyable viewing but there is a tendency in such programmes to refer findings to "our ecological past" and/or "evolutionary past" as if that is a full and satisfactory answer in itself, it's not. When Denis Dutton was out promoting his book 'The Art Instinct' he tried to make the point that humans have an affinity to and possible genetic connection to ecological landscapes and the 'evidence' for this was the number of landscapes that we can see in postcards and pictures. So what does this say about people who buy postcards of cityscapes for example? These are hardly proof of deep evolutionary associations and yet people still find them pleasing.

    With regards to tonight's programme if people place yellows next to whites, or oranges, and then next to reds that could well be due to the relationships between colours of similar hues. To say that this reflects an inbuilt hard-wiredness we can link back to our evolutionary past seems to me to be more conjecture than anything conclusive borne out of the evolutionary process. With seemingly infinite combinations of colour in nature, even taking the field of botany alone you don't need to go too far to find an example in nature that would endorse a colour combination selection. There is no attempt to locate specific colour combinations with our evolutionary past, and even less attempt to link these to our biology and/or genes. The resultant statement "this is due to our ecological/evolutionary past" remains an unconvincing and unnecessary speculation, and one that is all too common.

    If we were to conduct these colour associations experiments back in the 1930s would art deco influence people's minds resulting in more back/white combinations and connections? This is the kind of critical thinking that seems to be missing from experiments of this kind. Sometimes an outcome from such experiments is the possibility of defining and designing better questions and future experiments rather than racing to levels of conclusiveness the evidence doesn't merit.

    It would have been interesting to see this experiment conducted with the indigenous African tribe(s) to see what the outcome was/is.

  • Comment number 29.

    Some interesting experiments, but I would have liked to see phenomena such as synaesthesia included, or why some birds - particularly raptors - have a wider spectrum of colour than ourselves. Also, in the field of language, there is an experiment where you have to identify the colour a word is written in. With foreign languages, the meaning of the word interferes with the colour e.g. schwarz (German), written in blue, would often be wrongly identified as being written in black.

  • Comment number 30.

    08th August 2011

    RE: Do you See what I See?!

    Dear Horizon,

    For the Full 40 Years of my Life (and the 40 of Dad's); Dad and I have been, pretty much, 100% Sure that we see EXACTLY what we each See (if you follow me)?!

    Dad now wears glasses, but We Still Believe that sitting in a (Visual) Setting there is NO Difference, Other than viewpoint etc.. that our eyesight "Obtains"..

    I Guess this could be researched but it always reminds us when we are in proximity and simply remembering our discussions about this that the actual View is "Identical" (in the way this programme questioned)..

    I thought this would be interesting although, finally PROVING this would be SERIOUSLY Interesting?!..

    Fondest Regards,

    South London

    (and Tony from all-over-the-place)..

    ALL Best Wishes!..

  • Comment number 31.

    C'mon the reds.

  • Comment number 32.

    Is that MOD er nation or modernation?

  • Comment number 33.

    whilst watching with great interest a section of this program gave an insight into how our body clock is regulated via what we see. Its was this part about the new cell found in our eyes that gave rise to a thought that maybe there might be a link here to helping those people who suffer from narcaleptic (uncontrolled falling asleep disorder) just a thought for all those scientists to ponder or am i just dreaming ?

  • Comment number 34.

    I would query the 'well-known' psychological trait that decision-making takes longer under stress. The stress response also produces adrenaline (another hormone they might have tested for) which heightens our sensory perception and reaction time. But anyway, v. interesting programme. Loved the way they linked emotional states with learnt cultural perceptions - between colours, what colours signify etc. I suppose people forget sometimes that emotions have such an impact on the way we learn, though the importance of language is I think well recognised (placing objects and ideas in schema). It even succeeded in revising a distant GCSE biology lesson. What was the name of the third type of light detector in the eye?... I'm such a geek

  • Comment number 35.

    Hugely disappointing and inaccurate programme. Rare for a BBC science programme to stray so wide of the mark. Aaron is right, none of the results shown provide grounds for the overblown claim that 'colours don't exist' or that they are 'creations of our brains'. Colours are one thing: colour perceptions another. It is not hugely surprising that our perceptions of things can vary without the things themselves varying. We know that when we look at a stationary object with one eye close and the other open and then close and open the other eye. The relative position of what we are looking at appears (is perceived) to move, but the object itself doesn't change its position.

    Just because we may have different perceptions of the room depending on the perspective we occupy, it doesn't follow that there is no single room we all see (differently), or that there are only perspectives (perspectives on what?) Bad argument.

    It was Descartes who tried to show that because our sense could be subject to illusion they could not be a source of knowledge or give us real information of what was around us. Have we made no progress since the 17th Century in the claims made in this programme? It was claimed that we assume our eyes give us knowledge of how the world is around of us, but that this was mistaken because 'none of this exists'. A widely absurd claim that was later qualified.

    I lost track of how many internal inconsistencies there were in the voiced over script or even within the same contributor's comments. Why do we have colour constancy? Could it be because its a good thing to correct for luminance distortions in appearance (like correcting for perspective) of things which don't chance their colour when a shadow is cast on them? Why does the banana not look as though it changes colour? We are told its because we expect the banana to be the colour it is! So colours do exist? And it's hardly a big surprise to be told that our mood can change our 'perceptions' of colour. It can also have an impact on our sensory acuity in other modalities like taste and smell, and on many of our other ways of functioning as is well known. No controls for other colours in the penalties experiment as has been said.

    Usually Horizon is such a good and well-researched programme, but here great reliance was put on one researcher and some less than convincing conclusions. Lots of philosophical questions asked - without acknowledgement as such - and answered badly by those without enough philosophical training. Philosophers may not be able to give the right answers but they have had a lot of experience at rooting out bad answers.


  • Comment number 36.

    This programme reminded me of an edition of "Horizon" I saw some 30 years ago, in which the theory developed by Edwin Land (of Polaroid camera fame) to describe how our brains calculate colour was explained. I was disappointed that no reference was made to this theory. Is there any chance of that old "Horizon" programme being repeated? I would love to see it again, and it would make a good complement to the one just shown.

  • Comment number 37.

    Watching the Red/Blue 'success tests' was rather thought provoking. It immediately reminded me of my time at Grammar School. From entry into the school all pupils were divided into 'Houses' for purpose of Sport and competition I guess. We had 4 houses: Cliffe, Downs, Hill, Town. I'm sure the origins of this division once related to the various localities of the catchment area of the school, although by the time I was taught there I'm sure the allocations were likely to have been more or less random, as the number of pupils put in each house was balanced.
    What WAS interesting is that - as far as I recall - the most successful 'Houses' were invariably Downs & Town, whereas Hill did less well and Cliffe was almost always the house that seemed to come last. Each house had its own colour (Tie, Rugby shirt, etc.), and the allocation was:
    Cliffe - BLUE, Downs - GOLD, Hill - GREEN, Town - RED.
    Perhaps you researcher from UCL (my old Uni !!!) really is on to something, and there is much more latent evidence for his research theories to be gathered from the archives of Secondary Schools that used 'House' systems.

  • Comment number 38.

    What a brilliant and fascinating programme. We enjoyed the sequence with the football teams. I am so glad that the BBC continues to make science programmes of such a high calibre and Ms Robinson should be congratulated for again producing superb television. We look forward to her next production, thank you

  • Comment number 39.

    I would think logically that our primary need for colour vision is to identify the state of food and its nutritional values or potential poison. (Food we buy in our shops is often artificially coloured to make it look more appetizing.) As a child, my favourite colours were various shades of natural greens ... I probably didn't eat enough greens and my colour sense was attracting me to lettuce and the like. Muted tones of turquoise and rust cause offensive reactions in me, probably because I associate with them with contaminated water. Using colour in harmony with our body-clocks is certainly significant, but surely not as important as the need for nutrition, so I'm questioning whether the evolution of colour perception having begun with blues and yellows then having progressed to include red and green is even true let alone relevant. It isn't even proven that we evolved.

    Variety is the spice of life, but too much of it makes you sick!

  • Comment number 40.

    Further to comments by Aaron, Robert and a number of others, I have to say that much of the thinking of the programme was confused and incoherent. The 'argument' for the conclusion that colour doesn't exist can be applied equally to any perceptions so you might want to commission programmes on the subjects 'sound doesn't exist' 'texture doesn't exist', 'solidity doesn't exist' or, of course, 'nothing exists' ... perceptions are fundamental building blocks of the structure of existence...without different colours allowing us to discriminate between parts of our visual field there would be no visual reality at all, and none of the experiments referred to in the programme would be able to take place.

  • Comment number 41.

    What a terrible episode. Almost as bad as the "Is Seeing Believing" epsiode, with the way to smug Dr Beau Lotto, also on last night.

    So light alters colour, colour alters mood, and if you stand in the right place you can make it look like you're holding the Statue of Liberty in your hand.

    Who gives a ****.

    You really need to pull your finger out Horizon, and stop dumming down.
    "And why do I fancy you more in red?"
    Says it all really.

    There was more science in "James May's Things You Need to Know", than there was last night.

  • Comment number 42.

    I watched the Horizon programme on colour perception and felt that there were so many issues glossed over and misrepresented that the whole was very unsatisfactory.

    The programme was presented as modern science yet the idea that colour is made in the head was one of the great breakthroughs of late 18th and early 19th Century science. Particularly impressive was the work of the French scientist Gaspard Monge who not only demonstrated “induced colour” but also posited an explanation for “colour constancy” which was very similar to that suggested in Edwin Land's "Retinex” theory published nearly two centuries later in Scientific American (1979). Like Monge’s, Land’s explanation was based on the discovery of a constancy in ratios between colour triplets when viewed under different wavelength combinations of light. And where were the “lightness algorithms” reviewed by Annie Hulbert in the early 1980s? These were dedicated to finding a more neurophysiologically plausible explanation for colour constancy than Land’s. They were based on the idea of separating out light reflected directly from a surface (without changing its wavelength composition) from pigment-determined reflective properties of the substance of which the surface was made (what I call “body-colour”)? Plenty of scope there for explaining differences in responses to actual bananas and backlit squares of yellow. Have the lightness algorithms been show not to work in the real world? I hope not for the one we developed certainly provides a good explanation for otherwise puzzling phenomenon in the perception of surface, space and light in paintings.

    Why was the distinction so blurred over between what we “experience” when seeing colours and how we “classify” them. There was almost nothing that suggested that people with “normal vision” (trichromats) actually see colours differently, although various kinds of anomalous colour vision surely produce very different and for me fascinating perceptual worlds, as I have discovered from close questioning of "red/green colour blind" artist students. The one exception in your programme was the artist who claimed only to see blacks, whites and greys (which of course may not correspond to what normal colour vision people experience when experiencing colours with those names). As for people with “normal” colour vision classifying colour space in terms of just noticeable differences (JNDs), has any new evidence come to light that they perform differently? If so, this would go against the received wisdom of the1980s.

    I am in awe of anyone capable of implanting colour receptors into monkeys eyes, but I am not surprised that doing so enabled them to distinguish a new range of colours. The reason is that as part of a project in which I was involved concerned with modelling neurophysiological systems I studied early visual processing and the learning processes that are responsible for the way it happens. As an implementation of what I found, for an exhibition in 1987, I designed a computer programme that automatically learnt to classify colours into 64 categories based on data coming via a video camera randomly exploring a full spectrum of colours projected onto a white wall. To make this possible, the system had been previously exposed to a slide show of landscapes, townscapes and interiors with the object of sensitising it to a fixed number of different levels of illumination (in other words this process automatically resulted in it becoming a light meter). It ran on a BBC computer (32K memory) and was based on (a) the existence of three light-sensitive captors representing the light primaries, (b) an algorithm derived from known properties cells and taking into consideration the architecture both of the retina and the “columns” in the visual area at the back of the brain, and (c) the proposals of Lynch on the conditions necessary for learning to take place in the neural systems he was studying. An assumption was that that the so-called “hard wired” parts of adult visual systems always go through a preliminary learning phase that depends on the exposure of infants eyes to patterns of light. One requirement of a system designed in this way is the existence of feedback loops capable of freezing it at the stage where the visual area “columns” have reached the appropriate level of functionality. Such a system would remain adaptive if new inputs (as a result of changes in the numbers of receptor types) were added or old ones subtracted. As far as I can see the monkey data fits well into this model.

    I have written enough. One thing that can certainly be said of colour is that we are very lucky that evolution has provided our species with the capacity not only to experience it but also to appreciate it in a multitude of different ways.

  • Comment number 43.

    A lot of reading here ;-) First of all. Horizon is asking the question. It's a subjective matter and not exact science as every individual sees different.
    I thought the football match was a bit simplistic and seen from the wrong angle. The Red shirt makes the team more confident as their cortisol levels hardly rise whilst taking a penalty. (?) Better explanation; the colour Red is as known a colour asociated with danger. The blue team has more stress therefore more cortisol because the clolour Red "destracts" them from their task.

    Pod test: Time is relative, so is peoples time perception. The colour is also relative. My Mum loves blue. It makes her calm and happy. Blue makes me feel cold and depressed. But Mr. Lotto also says this.

    Ontario girl: She has no cones. She does not know what colour is. Although her brain would know what colour is. The tool to see them is broken. She has to learn the colours by name and asociation with her surroundings and convert them into greyscale. So a granny smith apple probably tastes nice and to her it has a nice grey, so she'd like to paint her house that shade of grey.. green! to colour seeing people. She has monochromatic vision or complete colour blindness.

    Colour Light Restaurant: Photosensitive ganglia in the eye and the body clock, located at the chiasma opticum are quite well known to medical people, hence light therapy and the "wake up light" and "mood light". Like a shortage of Retinol gives you night-blindness. And that you take in sensory information about 10 to the power of 9's bits/s. But most gets lost or processed subconsciencly.

    Evolution: Yellow, Blue vision? Hmm. Makes sense, as vegetation came much later in evolution. (you need green and red to see yellow) So YB vision became Y separated into R and G RGB vision. A lot of sea life still doesn't like UV light so they only surface during nighttime. A lot of birds and insects can see UV light, but they live a short time. Humans would get cataract and other nasty things. As UV light (the wavelenght) is harmful to us. Evolution got rid of that.

    The people in Africa do see different as their world around them consists of Blue sky, probably nearly all year round or Black sky (at night). Greenish/Brownish shrubbery and Brown/Red Earth. Their brain evolved around the importancy of that erray of colours. Green is probably the most important for survival. And asociating words with colours does make a big difference, because the two hemispheres of the brain connect the two together in early childhood.

    Blue is%2

  • Comment number 44.

    What a disappointing program, from the misleading title to the questionable experiments featured. The banana colour experiment in particular seemed flawed. If they had have painted the banana with the same paint used in the similarly coloured tile it would have been more valid - was the experimenter aware of light/material interaction such as diffusion, reflection and scattering? One could argue that the subjects of this experiment could more accurately judge the colour of the banana by the way it transported the light as opposed to a flat painted tile.

    In another experiment there was mention that spider monkeys were given the ability to see red and green. However, we were not told how the experimenters did it, surely an important detail.

    The Horizon "brand" should be for properly researched science programming, covering cutting edge discoveries, theories and technology, not this poorly assembled piece of edutainment.

  • Comment number 45.

    Very interesting - I hope there is a follow up prog to go into more detail and perhaps explain why we have no yellow receptors. I like the idea that colour only exists as a product of our own brains, it makes perfect sense to me.

  • Comment number 46.

    Echoing others' disappointment, the programme's suggestion that people perceive colours differently seemed to be undermined by the findings that particular colours have constant psychological effects. If we do not perceive red the same way, then why does wearing red consistently affect sporting performance? If we do not perceive blue the same way, then why does blue light seem to make time pass more slowly (and not make time pass more slowly, as the voice over suggests)? Besides, even if people do perceive colour differently, this does not show that colours do not exist but are instead ‘created by the brain’. To take just one example, Lotto’s experiments show that we perceive time differently when bathed in differently coloured light. Does this show that time does not exist, either?

  • Comment number 47.

    I just wanted to say thank you for all the comments that you've sent in after my blog. I've read through all your observations, opinions and criticisms, all of them pertinent and thought-provoking, and shared them with the rest of the team that made the film.

    For a start, I just wanted to let anyone who's interested know that there's a set of links and clips on the Horizon website at bbc.co.uk/horizon. You can find out a bit more about the work of some of the people who featured in the film, and there are some links to some other researchers working in this field.

    One of the things that struck me as we researched the film was just how many different teams are looking into different aspects of the science of colour. There's also an interesting debate about some of the deeper, philosophical questions that this work raises. In a single episode of Horizon there just isn't time to cover all this work – and it may be that we should return to this field in the future. I do hope that anyone wanting a deeper layer of content will find some pointers on our website.

    There's a few specific comments that caught my eye;

    P_Sarad wrote about associating colours with days of the week. You may be interested in an article about a film we made a few years ago on Horizon, called Derek tastes of Wax, about people who seem to connect their senses in interesting ways: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sn/tvradio/programmes/horizon/derek_prog_summary.shtml

    Dorothea makes an interesting point about whether the colours that competitors wear should be looked at before the Olympics.

    And finally, if anyone is interested in taking part in Beau Lotto's experiment, it continues at London's science museum: https://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/

    Thanks once again for your comments and please keep them coming. Next week Horizon has a film about the work being done at some of the most powerful telescopes ever built – including a filming trip with a new telescope that flies on the back of a 747 plane: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b013pnv4

  • Comment number 48.

    I wasn't impressed by most of the content. Being a photographer I have a good understanding of colour, use of filters and a scientific understanding of colour wavelength properties (Spectral Astonomy being an interest). This program may have put one over on the general public about the understanding of colour but it failed on so many levels to really present anything groundbreaking.
    However look forward to next weeks program about developments in telescopes (this will be a lot better).

  • Comment number 49.

    I remember asking my parents and my teachers about this when i was a child. Nobody really listened. It crosses my mind sometimes and as a child i was convinced that we percieve collors differently from person to person.
    I am not collorblind but i had problems seperating red and green, as in what collor is called what. And i generally liked the idea of the world suddenly changing collor, getting mirrored or that everyone dissapeared and appeared randomly. :P

  • Comment number 50.

    Hello Sophie

    I very much like the quality in your TV shows. I love the science themed topics, especially like the ''do you see what I see?

    I was wondering if there could be a TV show on human motivation. And how motivation relates to the work we do. Daniel Pink, an author and speaker has talked about many scientific findings about motivation in his book 'drive, the surprising truth about what motivates us'.

    I would love to see a show based on motivation, and how it relates to the world of work.

    Thanks so much

  • Comment number 51.

    I watched this programme with great interest as I am red green colour blind. Most of the content seemed fairly logical.

    What surprised me was the throw away comment on the experiment with the monkeys that they had been given the red green cones absent in their eyes.

    Exactly how was that achieved? Is there now a cure for colour blindness?

    Surely such a discovery as this merits more than a very short slot on a programme trying to examine how we see colour.

    Would be really interested in finding out more about the monkey experiment surely there is another Horizon programme on this alone!

  • Comment number 52.

    Sorry Sophie, it's not just that you didn't have time to put in all the important philosophical questions. Many people were complaining about how incoherent the script was and how at odds it was at times with the careful explanations given by some of your contributors.

    Here are some bad slips:

    To start with a big and over-blown statement that colours don't exist and then go on to show how colours in our environment affects us is contradictory.

    To tell us we all see colours differently and yet red (and blue) has the same effect on all of us is equally bad.

    To show us that cortisol levels go down and make us less stressed when wearing red before Beau Lotto tells us that red makes us more anxious (not less stressed) was also careless or just an unnoticed inconsistency.

    We are told that emotions affect how we see colours (actually, we are told they effect colours!) and yet blue and red have the same effect on how time is perceived by all. (We are also told colours make time go slower. Really? What near post-boxes but not anywhere else? And remember colours don't exists and we all see them differently, anyway.)

    We are told language creates colour and that colour doesn't exist until we have a language just before Anna Franklin tells us, much more carefully, that colour vision is limited in pre-linguistic infants (limited not non-existent), and that colour categories - not colour vision - are influenced by language. (Notice, she tells us that infants have colour categories before they have language, it is processed by the right hemisphere. Her research shows how our colour categories are revised by language. That was completely distorted by the voice-over.)

    Similarly, Jules Davidoff is careful to tell us that as far as sensation goes we probably see the same thing, but when asked to compare colours the concepts we use may differ and create different comparative colour judgements. This got completely mangled in the voice-over and all but contradicted by the claim that colour is created by language . Would be good to pay attention to what the better scientists are saying if you have them as contributors.

    We have red and green colour vision to pick out ripe fruit in a forrest. That's because ripe fruit IS red: not because our brains create the colour. And it doesn't tae us a life-time to learn these colours as it is said. If it did, our ancestors would have died out before finding the red fruit. Notice too that giving the monkey cones - how? - instantly enables it to sort red and soon after develop a preference based on red. Didn't take a lifetime evidently.

    Why do we have colour constancy for the banana in the rather poorly designed experiment we saw? Because, we are told, we know that bananas look yellow: ie. we know what colours bananas are. How does this square with none of this exists and colours are created by the brain? And how do we know what colour bananas are if we all see colours differently because of our experience and how we feel?

    In Lotto's experiment about detecting whether the light changed colour, he concludes that if we feel more powerful we detect the colour change sooner and more accurately. How do we measure success here? By speed of detection of actual colour change? Does the colour change? But I thought colours didn't exist and that they were created by our brains, and that we all see colours differently and that colours have an impact on time. Not here it seems.

    There is an obvious interpretation of these results - people who feel more/less empowered don't see things differently or detect the change of colours more or less quickly quickly (assuming the colours do change) but rather they feel more/less sure in making judgements and giving their answers. This is consistent was lots of other experimental evidence of the impact of emotional state on cognition, and it's way more plausible. Big confound in the findings.

    Reviewing these tensions and inconsistencies, it would have been helpful to point out that there were some fundamental differences of view held by your contributors. And it would have been good to acknowledge that some of these findings or suppositions were controversial and contested by others - including others featured in the programme. Or did you just not notice this? Instead, what viewers got was an incoherent story with an assortment of exciting but conflicting findings and speculations. Were you at all aware of these inconsistencies or were you just under too much time pressure to notice when assembling the programme? I guess that's what many who have raised similar issues here would like to know. Horizon has maintained till now a pretty high standard. Don't give it up for the sake of making a cute programme with supposedly new and amazing findings. Stick to the facts or consult more experts.

  • Comment number 53.

    I don't disagree with the results but I must take issue with the interpretation of the same. This morning, my wife on the way out said something and I understood it to be different to what she actually said (Chinese Whispers) - does that mean my misinterpretation was correct or the actuality of what exists in the outside world? An illusion is an illusion not a fact about the outside world. If my senses are faulty or misled temporarily about reality, that doesn't mean I am right and the rest of the world is wrong - this is the basis for delusion. Coral Atkins in her book and in the TV play, starring Sarah Lancashire, made this same point. She blotted out of her mind perception of 'The Colour Red' (Title of the book I believe). Does this mean that the colour red ceased to exist in the outside world? No, just her perception of it within. As somebody else said about a fallacious statement 'I refute it thus', altering reality to prove the statement made previously was based on unsound ideas, even if they seemed to follow some semblance of logic: You could probably prove I don't exist with words but to misquote Gallileo 'Still I exist.'

  • Comment number 54.

    RE: The African people who's perception of coloured squares was different to ours: I wasn't at all convinced that this has anything to do with language. More likely I thought that their eyes may have evolved to perceive colours slightly differently to the way our eyes work - the effect seemed more akin to "colour-blindness", both in their inability to pick out the "blue" square from the "green" ones AND in our struggle to pick out the "slightly-different-green" square from the other "green" ones. It's all relative and no surprise as human bodies have evolved differently across the planet.

  • Comment number 55.

    I agree that there was a lamentable lack of coherence and clarity in the presentation of this program, and I've been waiting for someone to comment on what to me was the most glaring confusion of all, which involved the "perception of time passing" experiment. I could overlook the continual references to "time speeding up/slowing down" instead of "time being perceived to pass more quickly/slowly", but the interpretation of the results of the experiment made no sense, which must be the fault of script and editing rather than those conducting the experiment.

    We witnessed the subjects being asked to indicate when they thought a minute had passed. However, we were then told several times that what was being measured was the subjects' perception of how long a minute took to pass - which is exactly the opposite! Put simply: if I signal that I think a minute has passed after, say, 50 seconds, then I would perceive a minute as taking more than a minute to pass, i.e. I am perceiving time to be passing more slowly if I think a minute is up before it actually is. (The way you keep looking at your watch when impatient or bored, not believing it's only been a minute since you last looked.)

    I can't believe that the experimenters made such a simple error of interpretation, but both the voiceover and Dr Lotto referred to people's perception of "how long a minute took", which was not what this experiment actually measured. This gave the impression that those who underestimated a minute were experiencing time passing more quickly, when the opposite is the case.

    The most charitable explanation is that Dr Lotto's ambiguous exposition was lacking in scientific rigour, and that this was compounded during editing and scripting.

  • Comment number 56.

    I found this episode of Horizon very interesting as i myself am totally colour blind.
    i have learnt to identify colours through experience and conditioning. We grow up learning what a colour should look like. I totally sympathised with the young woman who is colour blind and have exsperienced many of the same problems she has. it is important to be able to identify colours as this sharpens a person vision. It is very difficult living in a world of colour and being unable to identify certain things. i use a contrast spectrum to help me but this doesn't always work

  • Comment number 57.

    Having studied and worked with colour for 23 years I am quite surprised that there is the approach of "scientists are now beginning to discover.." Colour research and studies have been happening for 100's if not 1000's of years. At one time Russia was the foremost in the psychological effects of colour, in Canada they ran a programme in a set number of schools to see if by changing the colour of the lighting it would affect students learning and concentration levels.. results showed it did. Feltham young offenders and other prisons and some police stations had a "pink" room research carried out in the US showed a specific shade of pink (bubble gum pink) caused the body to release a certain type of hormone which blocked physical strength and aggression. Unfortunately there were too many complaints from staff that was just not a "manly" enough colour to be used in such places, shame cause it worked! The colour is called Baker-Miller pink named after the two people who did the research in the US.
    Colour in sport - it's been known a long time about the effect of red and most teams who wear red have a higher percentage of winning. At the end of the 90's I did a tv slot for Man U TV all about the history of the colour strip, including a special piece about the infamous game against Southampton where at half time Man U players were complaining they couldn't see each other in their grey shirts, they changed their shirts during half time and went on to win the match.
    I guess what I'm saying is that whilst it's great that there are more scientists speaking out about the effect of colour and making it more known to everyone, i think some science has around a few thousand, if not more, years to catch up with what people have known and believed in long before the words "experiment" or "clinical trials" ever existed.
    Thank you though for also giving me something to share with my students. Next April at Northamptom University there is a two day conference all about Colour.
    Happy colouring everyone

  • Comment number 58.

    Enjoyed the programme .... I agree that we have inherent evolutionary distinction of colour and colour that we learn from our own experieince and intepretation. What about colour and taste? When I was a teenager I played with the different colours of food. I can eat 'yellow' scrambled eggs but if I put in diffrent food colourings I cannot eat it .... green scrambled eggs ... yuck! Pink scrambled eggs ok ! .... black scrambled eggs ... yuck !! Our brain is trained to associate certain colours with taste from an early age and the older we become so change in the colour of foods that we know becomes abhorrent.

  • Comment number 59.

    The programme's seeming inconsistency over the subjective/objective nature of colour is more apparent than real. The prevailing "scientific view" is that colours as such are virtual properties of objects and lights that exist only in relation to the human visual system, but this is in no way inconsistent with specifying these virtual properties, for example by a Munsell notation. Newton realized and clearly stated that "the rays to speak strictly are not coloured", but in much of his writing was happy to go along so far with the "vulgar people" (including some modern philosophers) as to call the rays not only coloured, but colours.

  • Comment number 60.

    How did I miss this? I have always wondered about this very problem and have actually read many books and scientific papers on the topic in my spare time. I will have to make sure I catch your film at some point!

  • Comment number 61.

    With reference to comment #55.

    Sorry to disagree, "springy88", but it seems to me that you are confusing perceived time with actual clock-time. I agree that much of the language used in the programme was sloppily composed and imprecise, but, whichever way a subject's perception of time is measured, if they over-estimate the actual clock-time which has passed (e.g. they think it's 60 seconds when there are only 50 seconds on the clock, or 72 seconds when there are only 60 seconds on the clock) then they are perceiving time passing more quickly than real time, not more slowly.

    I have here expanded your argument to include numbers to show what is happening:
    "if I signal that I think a minute [i.e. perceived 60 seconds] has passed after, say, 50 seconds [on the clock], then I would perceive a [real] minute [i.e. 60 seconds on the clock] as taking more than a minute [here, this would be 72 seconds perceived] to pass".
    This shows that your conclusion ("i.e. I am perceiving time to be passing more slowly if I think a minute is up before it actually is") is not consistent with your own reasoning.

    This is also apparent when you refer to "the way you keep looking at your watch when impatient or bored, not believing it's only been a minute since you last looked". In that situation, you are believing that THE WATCH (i.e. not time itself) must be running slow, and you believe that because your mind is perceiving time as passing more quickly than the watch is showing. Thus, using the same numbers as above, five minutes of real time on the clock would feel like six minutes.

  • Comment number 62.

    I’ve solved the conundrum of illusion of colour.

    Well, the main conundrum in Horizon’s “Do you see the same colours as me?” But please bear in mind that with psychology testing the real question may remain hidden and Dr Beau Lotto is fascinated by illusions.

    The programme ranged over many areas of sensory perception of colour and contained interesting experimental evidence. The reality of colour was so varied and compelling.

    There was baby development, experiments on adults, other primates, emotional and psychological growth.

    “How do we create colour in the first place?” “Your eye doesn’t see colour, your brain creates it, drawing on knowledge of what things should look like.” “When it comes to seeing colour we can’t escape from our ecological history, we can’t help imposing that structure onto the world.”

    There were interesting cases where certain visual phenomena were subjected to different illuminations and when other coloured patterns were introduced into the visual field. A person would perceive not a different colour of a familiar object but impose a “colour constancy” image.
    It really showed how our mind is part of nature and not a dichotomous neutral onlooker. (Pity about Descartes).

    But, - there came a repeating conundrum of the form: the “unsettling idea that colours may not really exist” “Colour is effectively an illusion” (Come back Descartes?)

    No real explanation of a non-conforming paradox was proffered except a brief reference to the nature of light.

    My take on this is that the nature of light is robustly described as identical to electromagnetic waves, which is part of natural mathematics (Physics). (See Maxwell’s equations). The paradox arises because of a perceived conflict between colour perception and physics; and my first serious science was Electromagnetic theory.
    (Or is it between biology and physics?)

    In natural mathematics it is the morality of science that in imposing the structure of our theories we diligently seek evidence by experiment and critical observation.

    Colour (origin perception), is described as various
    combinations of electromagnetic waves of various wavelengths, which is validated, inter-alia, by our colour perception. There is clearly a correspondence between our mathematics of colour and our perception of colour because that is what we sought to understand. It is not necessary to expect some exact correlation between perception and mathematics

  • Comment number 63.

    I’ve solved the conundrum of illusion of colour.

    Well, the main conundrum in Horizon’s “Do you see the same colours as me?” But please bear in mind that with psychology testing the real question may remain hidden and Dr Beau Lotto is fascinated by illusions.

    The programme ranged over many areas of sensory perception of colour and contained interesting experimental evidence. The reality of perception of colour was so varied and compelling.

    There was baby development, experiments on adults, other primates, emotional and psychological growth.

    “How do we create colour in the first place?” “Your eye doesn’t see colour, your brain creates it, drawing on knowledge of what things should look like.” “When it comes to seeing colour we can’t escape from our ecological history, we can’t help imposing that structure onto the world.”

    There were interesting cases where certain visual phenomena were subjected to different illuminations and when other coloured patterns were introduced into the visual field. A person would perceive not a different colour of a familiar object but impose a “colour constancy” image.
    It really showed how our mind is part of nature and not a dichotomous neutral onlooker. (Pity about Descartes).

    But, - there came a repeating conundrum of the form: the “unsettling idea that colours may not really exist” “Colour is effectively an illusion” (Come back Descartes?)

    No real explanation of a non-conforming paradox was proffered except a brief reference to the nature of light.

    My take on this is that the nature of light is robustly described as identical to electromagnetic waves, which is part of natural mathematics (Physics). (See Maxwell’s equations). The paradox arises because of a perceived conflict between colour perception and physics; and my first serious science was Electromagnetic theory.
    (Or is it between biology and physics?)

    In natural mathematics it is the morality of science that in imposing the structure of our theories we diligently seek evidence by experiment and critical observation.

    Colour (origin perception), is described as various
    combinations of electromagnetic waves of various wavelengths, which is validated, inter-alia, by our colour perception. There is clearly a correspondence between our mathematics of colour and our perception of colour because that is what we sought to understand. It is not necessary to expect some exact correlation between perception and m

  • Comment number 64.

    Just watched the programme on iplayer. Interesting but wrecked by music making the speech inaqudible ....

  • Comment number 65.

    I can not find anywhere to comment on the Horizon "The Core" programme, so here goes.
    I have not watched Horizon for many years (at least 3) and had gone off it due to what could be summed up dumbing down. Alas, "The Core" was no different. What was said in the programme could have been said in about 10 minutes flat. Instead we get endless slow-moving tedium as things are explained at a snail's pace. For example all that footage of the seismic explosions, spray-painting the ground etc - a complete waste of time and travelling expenses. Almost every section was at least twice as long as it should have been. The most interesting part was that focussing on the Japanese scientist, but even that was padded out with long visual effects - and all played out with the usual gamut of sound effects and dubbed-on sound. This sort of programme seems to be aiming at everyone and missing everyone at the same time; it is BBC1 standard material or, at a push, for school-level viewers. What viewer of Horizon, on BBC2 at 9pm does not know that the earth is made up of various layers? Please drop all the sound and visual gimmicks and play it straight. This is no way to educate anyone, with such diluted material spread over a full hour. If I was doing a programme on this subject, I would talk about the instruments, how they work in some detail, how that Cambridge scientist actually came to her conclusion in a lot more detail and would have allowed the Japanese scientist more time to talk about his experiments, past, present and future. The resultant programme would be no more than 30 mins long. Listen to "More or Less" on Radio 4 to get a feel for just how much really interesting and detailed material you can pack into 28 mins. Why does no-one seem to take advantage of TV and do so much more on this level? Or are TV viewers considered less intelligent? In terms of educational value, there is sadly no comparison between these two programmes.

  • Comment number 66.

    The part about the people in Namibia who had a wider perception of greens than people in the West particularly interested me, as I immediately saw the different green. I put this down to the fact that I am an artist and have been working with and mixing colour for many decades. Very interesting to see that people do perceive colours differently.


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