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Pop Quiz: March 2007

Test Your Knowledge of the Perception of Color

  • When red, green, and blue pixels are illuminated simultaneously with equal intensity on a video display, we see the color white.
  • The human eye has an equal number of cones sensitive to each of the three primary colors.
  • Visible light is part of the same electromagnetic spectrum that includes radio frequencies and gamma rays.
  • In 1923, Lithuanian physicist Roy G. Biv was the first scientist to accurately measure the wavelengths of colored light.


1. TRUE. This is an example of additive color, which is one way to reproduce colors. The other way is subtractive color.

2. FALSE. About 64 percent of the cones are red sensitive, about 32 percent are green sensitive, and about 2 percent are blue sensitive. However, blue cones have the highest sensitivity.

3. TRUE. Although light that is visible to humans has far more energy than radio waves and far less energy than gamma rays, all are part of the same electromagnetic spectrum.

4. FALSE. ROYGBIV is a mnemonic device students use to remember the color range from one end of the visible spectrum to the other. The first letter of each main color family — red, orange, yellow,

Sources: Georgia State University Department of Physics and Astronomy.

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