Why colors don't exist in the dark

What will happen to the colors in the dark?

Question from:
Date: 11.9.2005

Good day,
what will happen to the colors in the dark? In other words, what color are objects in the dark? Can you do an experiment on this?
Many Thanks.


Answer from:
Date: 12.9.2005

Color is primarily defined by the sensation an object makes on the eye, and this depends on the observer: bees perceive ultraviolet light that we cannot see. Red-green blind people do not see the same colors as other people. To see the color, light has to get into the eye. You can replace the eye with an instrument that can measure the color (a digital camera, a spectrometer ...), but in any case you can only see an object when it is illuminated (or illuminated itself). Does the color of an object exist regardless of whether one observes it, is it a property of the object or does the color only exist "in our heads"?
If the object is not illuminated, neither an observer nor an instrument can tell its color. To know whether it still exists is not a scientific question, but a very well-known philosophical question (more precisely an ontological question).
What is it like when an object changes color in the dark? For example, the leaf of a tree that is lying in a cellar and slowly wilts and turns brown. Does it have a color at all times? This is a question of the philosophical standpoint about what observing and perceiving actually is.
From a scientific point of view one would rather say that there is color because it can in principle be measured at any point in time, whether one decides to measure it or not.


Answer from:
Date: 12.9.2005

Most objects are not changed by the light (as long as it is not too bright). So you can say that the objects keep their color in the dark. Unfortunately, you can't see this color without light! But you can also say that it is like closing your eyes: that doesn't change the color of the objects either!
If you wanted to do an experiment, you could turn down the light step by step and watch whether the color of the object changes.
The color depends on the object, on the color of the light (colored or white light) with which the object is illuminated, but also on the eye. For example, a red-green blind person sees colors differently than other people.
When the light gets weaker and weaker, the eye "switches" to night vision mode and the color perception changes. One then has the impression that the color is changing, but it is not the color of the object that changes, but only the way our eyes perceive this color.

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