TED Conversations

Ivan Nel

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Do we see the exact same color?

Is my red and your red, the same color.

My answer was - Yes, it could vary slightly but the color should be the same. Because if we had to seperate light waves, and only allow red light in - if we both saw light, we would both have to be seeing Red.

My friend threw a spanner in with - the input is the same, but how my eye perceives that light could vary. His example was if you submitted a sound at a frequency of 100hz, and we both hear that sound - due to varying thickness of our eardrums - my ear could perceive that as 101hz, with his at 99hz.

Does the same apply to the eyes ? Is there a way to prove that we see the exact same color when we see Red.

Added, i also think that light is deflected differerntly depending on what it passes through, therefore green eyes pass light differently to Brown eyes, as do blue eyes. Could we therefore assume that all green eyes see the same Red ?

My friend also believes that as you have a unique thumbprint, you have a unique retinal print - which means that each person interprets light uniquely.

your input would be appreciated.



Closing Statement from Ivan Nel

Joee Ern, I do agree - One just has to think how Women are more expressive, hence they identify far more colors than your stereo-typical male.

an example is, what i call Red - A more expressive woman could call either Maraschino, or cayenne.
What i call purple, someone else could call either maroon, plum, eggplant, grape, orchid or lavender.
Green can be called honeydew, lime, spring, clover, fern, moss, flora or seam foam.

Whilst i do agree that we see different shades, What i am asking is whether or not its possible to prove that we are seeing the same color of the spectrum at all.

By isolating Red light, if we both saw a color, we are both seeing red. But there is still no way to prove that the red i am seeing, is not the blue that you are seeing.

Thanks everyone for your answers.

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  • Sep 14 2012: my answer would be ....sure we don't see the same colors, even the eyes of the same person don't see same colors

    as an example... when you are outside and the sky is blue "i hope" try closing one eye "covering it with your hand would be better" for lets say 30 sec . after that try comparing the sky color impression you have from each eye alone. i think this is related to the chemical sensors that we have in our eyes.

    i also think the differences can be much greater when comparing two different persons, it's all about how our brains process the electrical waves they get. maybe the way i see darkness and light are reversed in my mind along with there labels "as white and black" .... maybe i see things like you would see them in a negative form, and maybe this is all nonsense and no one will ever prove it =P

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