What about …. #32

Light or no light; this is the question.

We’re all fascinated by those splendid starry nights, where we see ourselves as small insignificant beings looking at a vast realm of wonders. We’re aware that those shinning white dots are painted on a black background, and that is what this is all about. I’ve been wondering about the darkness of space since I can remember.  I always thought that space was dark because that was its colour, space was THE black colour. Filled with different types of electromagnetic radiation which gives us about 97% to 3% of matter. But I’ve learned lately thanks to Joseph through the RTU blog that our eyes may deceive us sometimes. As I’ve written in a previous post called “Can we catch rainbows ”, “Pure white light” or that which comes from our Sun can be split into a continuous spectrum of frequencies that range from the shortwave ultraviolet to the near infra red longer wavelengths. Our human eye can distinguish around 10 million different such frequencies, not just 7. Seven has become a common misconception adopted as reality simply for most humans convenience. We can make black colour by mixing yellow, bleu and red, even though it’s never totally black.  To make things worse, black is the colour of an object which absorbs all of the colours of visible light, for which we can  assume to be the same as no light.

Our brain shows us what our eyes detect; they are light receptors. So when there is no light, there is nothing to be received, therefore we don’t see anything. Such as when we turn off the lights and we stand in a pitch “black” room. The room hasn’t turned black when the lights went off, it’s our brain that perceived the darkness as if it was  blackness.  We may still touch the chair or the table but we’re not able to see them. The universe uses the same mechanism with a slightly difference. The universe is only dark in the sense that it is devoid of radiation that can be detected by the human eye; if it is dark to the human, it does not make it devoid of electromagnetic radiation.

Now, to answer the main question, is space dark or black ?

It is dark. Because we perceive what has no light, black. If we take a region of space full of stars, we would notice that space is filled with light and colours. Space is a place of wonders, with which we would never be fully acquainted.

But in the reality, is space really dark? If we could travel to the end of the universe, would we see a different horizon? Or is darkness/nothingness an illusion perceived only by the human eye?

Author: Novus Lectio

You'll never know what you'll read next. Random lecture is what is all about but one thing is for sure, it's by the same author who wrote The Theory of Fate and Who Went Out of Africa

19 thoughts on “What about …. #32”

  1. Interesting post!
    If i may correct you on a point though, light is not composed of seven colours called prism. A prism is a wedge shaped object of a transparent to visible light material, like glass for example. ‘Pure white light’ or that which comes from our Sun can be split into a continuous spectrum of frequencies that range from the shortwave ultraviolet to the near infra red longer wavelengths. Our human eye can distinguish around 10 million different such frequencies, not just 7. Seven has become a common misconception adopted as reality simply for most humans convenience. Also you can’t make black by mixing colours. Black is the absence of any colour we can see. You can ‘make’ light seem black by filtering certain frequencies out such as through red plus yellow plus blue filters (actually their 3 complimentary colours does it usually) but this simply reduces the overall intensity of the light being received by our eyes to below that which our receptors can be activated by.
    Joseph was nearly right about our eyes deceiving us – they actually deceive us all the time not just sometimes. For example: the things we see have NO colour, none at all! Colour is a deception our eyes pass through to our brain which recreates it’s own version of ‘reality’ – it literally makes it all up in your head. there is no ‘red’ in the frequency of visible light that we call red, there is no blue in ‘blue’ light or green in ‘green’ light. our eyes most strongly detect light at four main frequencies which correspond to a reddish, greenish, blueish and violetish frequency range and we (our brain) makes up all the other colours by combining these four receptor types so as to make up all the 10 million different frequencies our eyes can distinguish between.
    Also most of the time we see the world as if watching a flat screen TV – in 2 dimensions rather than as a 3D world. We are able to concentrate and alter our focus so as to perceive real depth in the 3rd dimension, but we mostly don’t. this is why movies in the cinema, or even on a big tv screen can seem so true to life. our eyes detect light on a surface that is actually curved like the inside of a ball but we mostly interpret it as being on a flat ‘screen before our two eyes. The two eyes feed our brains slightly different and upside down images that the brain recombines and corrects for to give us the illusion we call ‘reality’ but it is not.
    We just make everything we see up.
    Curious huh? 😉

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Ok! Lots of new stuff, be happy to amend some in my post. But, when you say that it’s our brain that makes us think that blue is blue and red is red, do you mean that things are what? Uncolored​?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sorry for the delay 🙂
        Pretty much – Yes. When we say we see a red ball what is happening is (usually) ‘white’ sunlight hits the ball and what the ball is made up of absorbs almost all of the light hitting it and reflects a very small part (if it reflected all the light it would be as bright as the sun – like looking at the sun in a mirror!) The little bit it reflects into our eyes is a very narrow wavelength band in the ‘red’ end of the spectrum of visible light. This frequency range is detected by one or two of the four types of sensors in our eyes that respond best to this wavelength range and we ‘see’ the ball as the colour red.

        The things we see as having colour don’t have any colour themselves but are able to reflect a certain colour of light. When there is little sunlight to see with you can see the ‘normal’ colour of any object is very near grey to black. Look at a red ball at night time when there are no lights on –
        do you see it as bright red?
        There is another way we see things – when light passes through them from a source and our eye sees them on the other side from the source, like leadlight glass or coloured perspex.

        In these cases the object does not reflect the colour we see but absorbs all the other colours we don’t see and lets the (say red for example, like in a car taillight lens) red light pass through and into our eye. The red lens has no colour itself but lets red light pass through it so we can see a red light. You might get the idea better if you try putting some blue glass in front of a car taillight and see if you can see either red or blue when the brakes are on. 🙂

        Have Fun!


        Liked by 1 person

  2. I enjoyed your meditation on the properties of light and human perception. My latest blog (Jan 2 2018) is quite distantly related to this topic. It attempts to compare unconscious dreams with conscious wakefuless. I wondered how the evolution of the internet is changing human experience. Since the advent of the scientific revolution in the 1500’s, I suggest that Western European thought has preferenced wakefulness over dream experiences. The scientific method relies on measurement using our human senses, especially sight. Your piece explores how perception needs to be accounted for. Humans are not machines, even though the scientific method has only recently absorbed and acknowledged the role of perception and paradigm shifting. Traditionally the scientific method has preferenced controlling the variables in our environment, chronological and sequential learning. Logical positivists and Cartesian skeptics (Rene Descartes laid the groundwork with his belief in a split that exists between mind and body in the very early days of the Scientific Revolution) have preached for the last 400 years or so. So I end by describing a recurring dream that I have had recently. I hop this dream signifies that the internet, in spite of ongoing short term misuse, such as the intentional spreading of intolerence and lies, may indeed overwhelm its abusers and become a collective voice unified by artificial intelligence that humans have created, but is now infinitively self creative. A bit of a segway from the above discussions I know, but if interested, read “Future friendly” at http://www.firewordsblog.wordpress.com. Thanks for sharing and discussing.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks for your encouragement and taking the time to read and respond. Time will tell whether the internet that humans have created is ultimately friendly, but it certainly is powerful. I wonder if it has the same impulse to create and sustain life as the mysterious force that we suppose unleashed the “big bang” leading to the eventual arrival of evolved biological life? Your discussion about light perception could be compared to how the human brain processes grammar in a language, compared to how computers are learning to listen, read and speak. Linguists have tended to point to the ability of the human brain to process grammar as evidence of a “leap” in evolution that distinguishes us from our primal ancestors. They argue that our brains required such complexity to achieve talking that such a development defies simple evolutonary progress. Well, that was the slant my prof took on in back in the late 70’s at any rate. Apparently, psychologists are less convinced of this distinction between us and the animal kingdom. Another factor in the development of human speech, apparently, was the inability of humans to breathe and swallow food at the same time, which may have required humans to make complex noises with our throats, rather than grunt and swallow. I digress. I have time on my hands…

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Of course, humans have improved since what we call Homo Erectus. But as time go on we improve our abilities and comprehension at a lightning speed.
          But our way to build something such as internet has nothing to do with the power that unleashed the Big Bang. No human or machine is capable of producing such a powerful blast from which life emerged. Only God can do such amazing creation.


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