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While I was in school, a professor was grilling me on color, and said, okay smarty pants, if you think you know what brown is, show me a brown laser.

We happened to be in the lab, so I pointed to a brown spot on the wall, made by a very powerful laser. After that, we referred to it as the brown laser.






You can't have a magenta laser either (since magenta can't be represented by a single wavelength). Or a black laser. Or for that matter, a C sharp laser. That doesn't mean those concept are particularly hard to wrap one's head around.

Nowhere in that anecdote does anyone assert that brown does not exist. "If you think that you know what brown is" is not talking about existence.

It seems a bit of a pedantic distinction, but ok. I edited the comment. I don't think it changes the spirit of the comment, though.

I've seen many people try to argue that magenta doesn't exist, or isn't a color, etc., simply because it doesn't correlate to a single wavelength.

Regardless, what is he trying to say, then? That brown can't be understood because there is no such thing as a brown laser? My point remains.


I was just recalling an amusing anecdote. The brown color produced by the laser was because it burned the wall. It's too late for me to edit the post for clarity.

Yes and it is an amusing anecdote. I commented because I've seen so many people who think that "color" must have a one-to-one relationship with wavelength of light, and it seemed your professor was doing that as well.

Actually, he was trying to get me past thinking that way. It all got started when I was trying to figure out RGB colors for some computer display.

Fair enough. I wasn't trying to take away from your anecdote or slight the professor, just add some commentary on that way of thinking about colors.



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