Brown: color is weird [video]


498 points | by pmarin 286 days ago


  • Quai 285 days ago

    I really enjoy this guys videos. The refreshing level of details. Great, geeky, humor.

    I especially enjoyed his "rants" about the design of a old toaster, and traffic lights, of all things.

    • CWuestefeld 285 days ago

      I loved his rant about space heaters. He showed a bunch of different products, all the same kind of heater, down to having identical 1500W output - but they were rated for small, medium, and large rooms, with proportional pricing. He went on to explain some basic thermodynamics (as opposed to marketing)...

      • chipperyman573 285 days ago

        The one on traffic lights is way more interesting than it sounds! Everybody should check it out. There's also a really interesting point he makes at the end that applies to something a lot of people on HN might relate with

        The toaster one is alright, it kinda bothered me when he said there was "literally NO reason" to design something the way it was (I think it had to do with the position of the coils) - obviously there is, it's probably just not a reason he'd like (cost, ease of manufacturing, etc). It makes me wonder if there was other info he skipped on because it "wasn't important" or "stupid". That's a pretty minor point though, overall his videos are very good.

        • jngreenlee 285 days ago

          He seems like a young technical Andy Rooney!

        • GaryNumanVevo 285 days ago

          Technology Connections is criminally underrated. Their content is presented in an engaging way, always interesting, always fun.

          • S_A_P 285 days ago

            Agreed. This is something my 12 year old son really enjoys watching as well. I like that he usually does a pretty good job of striking a balance between deep dive and conceptual high points. On school nights, he will sing "Technology connections" to the melody of Lucky Charms "Its magically delicious". Try to not do that the next time you see that channel...

          • cheschire 286 days ago

            Every “but wait!” Argument I tried to come up with, he answered seconds later. Very well paced and about as full of bad dad-scientist jokes you could make it.

            • scrollaway 286 days ago

              He's one of my favourite YouTube channels and I found out about him a mere weeks ago. Binged all his content. He has wonderful playlists on VHS and the format wars, color TV, analog everything etc. I recommend you look at his other videos and click on whatever titillates your interest.

              • gibolt 286 days ago

                I recommend you look at his Patreon page. His quality, depth of research, and overall uniqueness made supporting a no brainer for me.

            • marcan_42 286 days ago

              Yeah, he catches every single one of those and does it in style. Easily my favorite educational (often retro) tech channel. He gets you hooked even on stuff you already know about.

              Funny thing: some people have joked that he's my alter ego (I guess we look slightly similar?), but I could never deliver stuff like he does.

              • willis936 285 days ago

                Well he did miss one tiny little thing in his toslink video. I pointed it out (and I’m sure others did) and he filled in the gap in a follow-up video. He sets a very high bar.

                I wish he did have a more technical discussion on CRT vs raster displays. There is a real meat there that is typically unexplored. What is the spatial frequency response of CRT vs raster? What resolution raster do you need to be “good enough” and what kind of interpolation/LPF should be used?

                • derefr 285 days ago

                  > What is the spatial frequency response of CRT vs raster? What resolution raster do you need to be “good enough” and what kind of interpolation/LPF should be used?

                  You know, "Building a CRT from Scratch" would be a great standalone educational series. It could hit on everything from making glass, to how to pump air out of something, to coil winding/transformers, to phosphor chemistry, as well as the RF electronics stuff.

            • hombre_fatal 286 days ago

              Half a year ago he came out of nowhere for me and now I encounter his videos all the time. He deserves it. Whenever a vid pops up it's always on a topic I've been wondering about.

            • ainar-g 285 days ago

              If you've liked this video, you may also enjoy Alec's series on LaserDisc[1] (no, it's not about CD) and RCA's Capacitance Electronic Disc or CED[2].



              • ajot 285 days ago

                The CED saga reminds me of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, as in a "trilogy in five parts". Nevertheless, I love this guy and really enjoyed listening to the story of the CED.

                • mbreese 285 days ago

                  CEDs were great. We had two generations of those players growing up. The best part was that you eventually got to know exactly where the cut points were in movies. Because that was when you had to go up to the TV to flip the disc.

                  I’ll have to listen to his story on them. Probably a very different view from me as a kid just using them to watch movies pre-VCR.

                  • nwallin 285 days ago

                    There are a lot of HN appropriate lessons in his CED series. Especially the one about being on time to market: if the CED hit the market before the VCR or laserdisc did, it might have survived, or even possibly kept RCA alive. Or the stuff about using tried and true methods instead of the fancy new tech of the day.

                    My parents recently moved into a smaller home, and ... deacquired a bunch of their furniture by way of my house. In the shuffle I ended up with a bunch of my parents' old records. Being susceptible to impulse buys, I bought a record player. I actually really enjoy the experience of playing records. There's something about the physicality of it. I can't just press a button on my phone and ignore it. I have to choose what to listen to next. I have to physically flip the record twenty minutes in. It's not purely a background thing, it's a physical process and experience. Music has gone from something I ignore to something I participate in.

                    I'm not actually sure that's in any way relevant to the conversation at hand, but when I started ranting, I felt it was.

                    • ainar-g 284 days ago

                      Focus is a commodity. Sometimes, people just need rituals. I think, people are slowly starting to realise this.

              • maxnoe 286 days ago

                Also watch this please if you ever do plots using colormaps:

                About the perceptual uniform, colorblind friendly colormaps in matplotlib since 1.5. Now also adapted by most other plotting tools.

                • quietbritishjim 286 days ago

                  If we're on the "watch this YouTube video if you work with colours" train, here's a great explanation of why gradients usually have a dark band in the middle, on the MinutePhysics channel:


                  In short: the RBG values in an image are not actually the intensity of light, but some nonlinear function of intensity. To do a weighted average of two colours you need to first undo that nonlinearity, then do the averaging, then reapply the function. Most software doesn't do that so the colours end up wrong. This also applies to resizing images.

                  • marcan_42 286 days ago

                    It irks me to no end that in 2020 we are still using outright incorrect math for image processing, practically everywhere, with visible consequences (another one: this can also be blamed for a good chunk of the moiré artifacts when resizing images containing patterns, it's not just about subpar filters).

                    Ironically, Photoshop does this wrong by default, but the open source GIMP does it correctly (in current versions).

                    • mrob 286 days ago

                      Resizing in sRGB has the advantage of obscuring ringing artifacts when enlarging images, because the nonlinearity puts more of them in the highlights than the shadows, where they're less obvious to human vision. You can get perceptually even better results when enlarging by using a sigmoidized colorspace. See:


                      For another clear example of the problems of resizing in linear colorspace, see "Catch #3" here:


                      • mantap 286 days ago

                        Pretty much the first thing you learn in game development (OK not the first thing), is the difference between linear-RGB and sRGB and the need to do lighting calculations in linear space in your shaders. It's crazy that professional graphics software doesn't get this right.

                        • martin_a 285 days ago

                          > It's crazy that professional graphics software doesn't get this right.

                          "Professional graphics software" does what it's supposed to be and sRGB is an inferior standard in most use-cases of that software. Its gamut is simply not large enough, but it's a nice smallest-possible commond ground.

                          • marcan_42 285 days ago

                            This isn't a gamut problem, it's a bad coding problem.

                            "Professional graphics software" (i.e. Photoshop) absolutely does the wrong thing for color blending with the default settings. It's not a problem of being limited to the sRGB color space, it's about the math in use being outright wrong for use on that color space. You need to go into the settings and tick some checkbox to have some hope of it doing the right thing ("Blend RGB colors using gamma"), and even then I bet it only applies to some operations like blending itself, not scaling and other filters.

                            This is because all non-linear image encoding modes, like sRGB or straight gamma, should be viewed as compression. You don't perform mathematical operations on compressed data. It's like trying to mix together two MP3 files by literally taking the bytes and averaging them out. That's madness and does not work. You need to go into a linear format, like raw PCM, to be able to do that (with the right word size). Same with images: you need to convert from sRGB to linear light to be able to do math on them. But 95% of software, including "pro" software, doesn't do this, it just blindly does math on compressed (gamma encoded) data, and the result is ugly (we're just used to it).

                            Of couse, with Photoshop you can set your image mode to linear light and then things work fine... but that's not because linear light is required to make this stuff work, it's because Photoshop is broken when not using linear light and doesn't compensate for the encoding.

                            Meanwhile GIMP, a few versions ago, fixed this whole mess and actually applies blending and filtering in linear light (regardless of what mode your image is using in memory), making its blending and filtering much more pleasant and correct than Photoshop's. So yeah, it may not support CMYK or other "pro" features... but for a good chunk of basic editing in RGB space, you're actually going to get more correct and visually appealing results if you use GIMP than Photoshop.

                      • anderspitman 285 days ago

                        ColorBrewer[0] is a great research-backed resource for dataviz colors.


                        • donatj 285 days ago

                          Interesting - I have a tool using CIEDE2000 to calculate color differences - I learned from this that I should probably be using CIECAM02? I'll need to investigate further, but this was a very interesting watch regardless.

                        • seanalltogether 285 days ago

                          One thing he missed in the video is the fact that red and green cone cells make up 95% of the cones in human eyes, hence our extreme sensitivity to colors that fall between the two. Dark orange looks brown because we have so much resolution in that space to work with, whereas dark green is just dark green, or dark blue is just dark blue.

                          • andrewxdiamond 285 days ago

                            He actually covers that in a previous video, the one he linked below.


                            • martin-adams 285 days ago

                              In the video he said that we recognise it as brown because we learned the name for it and thus recognise it independently. Is that idea compatible with us having more red and green cone cells than blue - i.e. having more resolution to recognise brown?

                            • amyjess 285 days ago

                              You could also say similar things about the secondary colors.

                              Dark cyan = teal.

                              Dark magenta = purple.

                              Dark yellow = olive.

                              And maybe some of the other tertiary colors too, but yeah orange/brown is the more prominent one.

                            • willis936 285 days ago

                              I watched this with my SO last night. We have a very small cross section of shared media interests (notable ones being star trek and grand designs). One of the few youtube videos I’ve put on that she got excited about was Tech Connections video on rice cookers. I mean, I know I really like his stuff. Even though I’m deep in the weeds with most of his topics and already know it, I still find pleasure in hearing advanced topics explained from base concepts with such clarity. He knows his business and it shows.

                              • boffinism 285 days ago

                                Am I the only one who already thought brown just _was_ dark orange? Like, if you google 'dark orange', you get shown a bunch of brown swatches as the top results. Isn't that... just what brown has always been?

                                • belinder 285 days ago

                                  I think one of the points he is making is not that it's just dark orange, it's that we have a label for dark orange, but not a label for dark other colors on the same level of use as brown.

                                  We call dark orange brown. Sure dark red could be called burgundy but it's not a word used as much as brown. So we use the word brown as much as the words 'dark red'.

                                  • amyjess 285 days ago

                                    Eh, I could argue that "purple" is just dark magenta, or "teal" is just dark cyan.

                                    And the difference between "pink" and "brick red" is that both are just desaturated reds at different levels of lightness.

                                    • Grustaf 284 days ago

                                      He kept tslking about context etc so I was hoping there was more to it than brown just being dark orange. That’s about as exciting as pink being bright red.

                                      • vanniv 284 days ago

                                        The context is basically the need for something bright to create the context required for the dark orange to be brown -- because otherwise it isnt dark.

                                    • peteretep 285 days ago

                                      Yes, that’s exactly his point. Brown is dark orange, and you can’t make a light that’s the dark version of any colour, you can just have less of that colour. We only think of brown as a colour because we decided to give dark orange a name.

                                      • boffinism 285 days ago

                                        I guess I'm just confused as to why this video needed making. I didn't think the brown/dark orange equivalence was surprising, or a revelation. In the same way that I'd be confused if someone made a video saying, "Guys! Guess what! Pink is just light red!"

                                        • TheRealPomax 285 days ago

                                          For one, because you can make pink by mixing light, but you cannnot make brown by mixing light. The fact that brown only exists when you get dark orange but situation in an otherwise light surrounding means that if your color rendering is based on mixing light, brown is literally impossible to make on its own. You cannot, inherently, get any light system to make brown on its own. It either has to frame it with a much lighter color in the screen, or it needs to be situated in a much lighter surrounding.

                                          That's why this video is good educational material: it covers the contextual aspect of color that a lot of folks will have never even thought of. After all, pink is just red that you added white to, why not just add black to orange to get brown ("because that works for paint, but is literally impossible when your medium is light").

                                          • jxdxbx 285 days ago

                                            Well, among other things, English had a word for "brown" long before it had a word for "orange," which as the video described was previously seen just as a shade of red or yellow. Brown is just a more prominent color in nature.

                                            • ants_a 285 days ago

                                              The important insight was that dark orange/brown only exists in a context. There has to be something lighter visible for it to be perceived as dark. Whereas pink is a different mix of light than red. You can't make a red light bulb pink no matter how bright you make it. And you can't make an orange light bulb brown without putting a different brighter light alongside it.

                                              • laszlokorte 285 days ago

                                                Well pink actually is not just light red but mixed with blue, as mentioned in the OP video as well, a mix of two ends of the visible spectrum.

                                                • FoeNyx 285 days ago

                                                  > a mix of two ends of the visible spectrum

                                                  Wasn't that about magenta/fuchsia? ( #FF00FF )

                                                • squeaky-clean 285 days ago

                                                  You can make a pink light though, but not a brown one.

                                                • jessriedel 285 days ago

                                                  Maroon is dark red/purple. Indigo is dark blue/purple. Olive is dark green.

                                                  • yreg 285 days ago

                                                    Yet I bet brown has dramatically more hits in the English corpus than maroon, indigo or olive (colour).

                                                    • scotty79 285 days ago

                                                      fur-poo-bark color was probably more useful to name.

                                                      • DonHopkins 285 days ago

                                                        Q: What's brown and sticky?

                                                        A: A stick!

                                                      • jessriedel 285 days ago

                                                        Yes, but if you're trying to rebut me then you're mixing up the causality. "Brown" has more hits because people think about it differently (e.g., it's very frequently in their environment). The existence/prevalence of the name "brown" didn't cause people to think about it differently.

                                                      • peteretep 285 days ago

                                                        Yes, and you also can’t get an olive-coloured light, which is the whole point of the video.

                                                        • jessriedel 285 days ago

                                                          My point was that we gave names to these other colors, so that doesn't seem to be the reason people think brown is a "real" color more than maroon and olive.

                                                    • derefr 285 days ago

                                                      > Like, if you google 'dark orange', you get shown a bunch of brown swatches as the top results.

                                                      ...unless you've got a universal web dark-mode extension. Then they're orange swatches. The swatches are visually brown by default, because the page they're shown on is white by default.

                                                      The video said "brown is orange with context", but I'd say it's more like "brown is orange with contrast."

                                                      • Gupie 285 days ago

                                                        But there are light browns that are not orange, e.g.

                                                        • Broken_Hippo 285 days ago

                                                          It is because brown really isn't just dark orange. There are oranges that are both dark and not brown - these usually are on the redder side of orange, like dark orange clouds in the sky at sunset.

                                                          Brown is, in general, a muted orange. Take the red and yellow, add a hint of green (or purple, honestly) - and you have browns.

                                                          • etblg 285 days ago

                                                            Khaki (this one specifically: is like a desaturated orange. If you go in to the devtools and mess with the colour's HSL you can see how much more orange it looks just when increasing the saturation, and just how more brown it looks when lowering the darkness.

                                                            We've affixed a lot of specific names to colours around orange and brown, but they're basically variations of saturation and lightness on a certain range of hues (between yellow and red). The distinction between brown and orange is mostly subjective.

                                                            Which is what I like about this video. It gives a good sense of how much of the difference between two 'colours' is just naming and perception of a hue.

                                                            • grenoire 285 days ago

                                                              Technically, it's not supposed to be orange but a light orange. I think the less green-heavy hues of khaki are definitely light oranges.

                                                              • gmiller123456 285 days ago

                                                                Playing with some of the colors in Photoshop, I used an eyedropper to sample the khaki color. I get 169, 161, 150, RGB or 23,24,150 HSL. After playing around a bit, it seems that khaki is "dark orange", with equal amounts of RGB added to make it lighter. Or, "orange" desaturated and lightened.

                                                              • phkahler 285 days ago

                                                                When I was a kid, my computer could only display 8 colors, as it had 1 bit each if R,G,B. I used to wonder about brown and orange in particular as colors that were not available. I figured orange must just be an unequal mix or red and green, but I couldn't even speculate about brown. Today when you mention it, it makes sense to me that these 2 colors are related.

                                                                • legohead 285 days ago

                                                                  I've never considered a tree, dead leaves, dirt, etc to be anything near the color of orange.

                                                                • ken 285 days ago

                                                                  Maybe weird but not unique: every non-saturated color is like this. Try to set your RGB lighting strip to gray. Or watch the veins pop out of your LD's forehead when someone asks for gray lighting on stage.

                                                                  • derefr 285 days ago

                                                                    > Or watch the veins pop out of your LD's forehead when someone asks for gray lighting on stage.

                                                                    White light + black fog from a fog machine? Can you "pigment" air like that?

                                                                    • whatshisface 285 days ago

                                                                      Pass out grey translucent glasses with a little bit of diffusion to everybody in the audience.

                                                                      • MarioMan 285 days ago

                                                                        Now I'm wondering if there are programmable lenses to provide basic, real-life filters at concerts and other events.

                                                                    • mikedilger 286 days ago

                                                                      Is our color perception influenced by our culture's language?

                                                                      • improbable22 285 days ago

                                                                        I don't know, but the words we use for it are certainly influenced by our culture!

                                                                        Here's a paper with nice graphs, drawing where different languages put the boundaries between words -- they divide up the hue-saturation space into a varying number of blobs:


                                                                        (The data isn't theirs, it was painstakingly colected by going and asking lots of people "what colour is this pantone?". The paper does some fancy stuff on top of that. But it has nice graphs.)

                                                                      • ackshually 286 days ago

                                                                        Technology Connections is so great. Never dissapoints.

                                                                        • geomark 285 days ago

                                                                          This is great. I wish I had seen it before I did the unit on color with the kids in my after school club, although they did have their minds blown slightly when I made the screen on my cell phone all yellow and then put it under a microscope so they could see that there were only red and green pixels illuminated - no yellow light coming off that screen at all, it was all in their heads.

                                                                          • longtom 285 days ago

                                                                            Grey is also weird for the same reason. The moon appears white at night, but its albedo (% reflected light) is actually 0.12 which is comparable to that of asphalt.

                                                                          • thdrdt 286 days ago

                                                                            I always wonder if there will be displays in the future that combine emission and absorption at the same time.

                                                                            Like a combination of OLED and E Ink.

                                                                            This will also give you the possibility to turn your TV into a painting (without using power) when you are done watching.

                                                                            • derefr 285 days ago

                                                                              > combine emission and absorption

                                                                              If you think about it, that's what an LCD is doing. The backlight is emitting; the liquid crystals are absorbing. The display is white (i.e. passing through the emission from the backlight) where the liquid crystals aren't active; the display is black-ish (i.e. attempting to block as much of the emission as it can) when the liquid crystals are active.

                                                                              It's sort of like painting on a lightbox with black paint.

                                                                              • aasasd 285 days ago

                                                                                Some displays already have the two modes―alas don't remember what they're called, it's some variation of color eink. You get color indoors, or only black-on-white in sunlight.

                                                                                Some ebook devices also have ‘backlight’―usually diffused light from the sides so it doesn't shine directly in the eyes. I think this is the crux of your idea, because currently even if you use lcd/oled with backlight, no-power eink will be severely washed out in comparison. And if eink gets good color and contrast in the future, it will then fulfill the two-mode technology.

                                                                                • jrockway 285 days ago

                                                                                  I think you're talking about the displays that the original OLPC used:

                                                                                  • aasasd 285 days ago

                                                                                    Yeah, apparently the Pixel Qi company is a spin-off from OLPC, and that's the name I've heard in the context of color eink tech (took me a while to remember it). Defunct since 2015, however.

                                                                                    The page on the isn't too clear on the technology—presumably it's more complex than just LCD and eink slapped together. The Wikipedia page on the XO laptop seems to have some detail:

                                                                                • Razengan 286 days ago

                                                                                  That's an amazing idea.

                                                                                  The E Ink layer would be great for status overlays or permanent elements that rarely change, like the date and battery charge, or a list of recent notifications while the "main/active" display sleeps when the machine is idle.

                                                                                  • yoz-y 285 days ago

                                                                                    I dream of this kind of displays. It could also spawn a whole new medium of comic books, but with light effects.

                                                                                  • aasasd 286 days ago

                                                                                    Obviously I now need to repeat the dark room trick but with cut-out pictures of chocolate, coffee, nuts, dirt and bears.

                                                                                    • pininja 286 days ago

                                                                                      Big fan of this channel. He’s got a great series on the RCA CED.

                                                                                      • fyp 285 days ago

                                                                                        I can kind of make sense of why humans(animals?) evolved to see brightness in relative terms. The same object will have different amount of light reflecting off it based on the time of day so you don't want your brain to register those as different scenes.

                                                                                        Hue also makes sense. It's the distribution of wavelengths being reflected.

                                                                                        But what does saturation correspond to? When do things become saturated/desaturated in the natural world?

                                                                                        • derefr 285 days ago

                                                                                          Humans eyes don't see color as HSV; we (probably) use the

                                                                                          This means that the signal getting to our brains is actually a report of "how much {(red minus green), (yellow minus blue)} relative intensity" there is in view.

                                                                                          Saturation is our name for the feeling of having strong visual qualia, brought about by the magnitude of one or both of the relative-intensity signals being large.

                                                                                          • This is why oversaturated bright colours can trigger migraines in people—they're the strongest encoded signals, causing the most synaptic firing.

                                                                                          • This is also why some oversaturated colours don't seem as "bright" as others—you can make a "Brown 2.0" that's ultra-mega-brown, but it can't be as intense in {R-G, Y-B} terms as the pinkest pink (, since pink/magenta is a full relative intensity pin {1-0, 0-1}.

                                                                                          • This is also why staring at oversaturated colours for long periods leaves more of a visual afterimage than staring at equally-bright white does. It's the {R-G, Y-B} intensity, not the brightness, that's using up the electrochemical messenger molecules in your retina.

                                                                                          • jerf 285 days ago

                                                                                            Take an image and force all colors to the same saturation, and you may get an idea. If nothing else, there is advantage to extracting as much detail from the signal as rapidly as possible. Not everything has to have a direct, straight line relationship; second-order and third-order effects are perfectly selectable too. In fact straight-line relationships are the exception; even the ones we think we see are the confluence of a lot of individual second- and nth-order outcomes.

                                                                                            • pjc50 285 days ago

                                                                                              If you take the absolute value of differences between each pair of the three "color" signals, and find how varied they are, that is saturation.


                                                                                              I suspect a lot of natural stripe patterns require saturation to distinguish them.

                                                                                              • loa_in_ 285 days ago

                                                                                                The (high) opposite of saturation, the "grayness" is a characteristic of glare, specular reflections, metallic materials (and salts).

                                                                                                • joshspankit 285 days ago


                                                                                                  • scotty79 285 days ago

                                                                                                    Sunbleached? Roughened surface?

                                                                                                • mygo 285 days ago

                                                                                                  Color is hard to talk about correctly. If you’re reading this, video creator, since you asked at the end, this was very well done. Really, really good. Thanks for distinguishing magenta. Thanks for discussing both the additive and subtractive color models. Thanks for going over a few mathematical ways to describe color (RGB, HSB, etc). Thanks for mentioning photoreceptors and the visual cortex, how colors appear differently in different environments, and how color is an event. Thanks for mixing paints!

                                                                                                  I would include this as part of an introduction to color theory.

                                                                                                  If you were to make a V2, I’d suggest discussing gray, since I’m sure you’d find a way to make gray interesting (I mean it is though) :)

                                                                                                  • VBprogrammer 285 days ago

                                                                                                    As someone who suffers form a colour vision abnormality these things make me happy; if the world is so messed up for normal people then who cares that it's slightly more queer for me.

                                                                                                    • cpcat 286 days ago

                                                                                                      So basically there's no such thing as orange. It's just brown

                                                                                                      • empath75 285 days ago

                                                                                                        Bright brown.

                                                                                                        • spookthesunset 285 days ago

                                                                                                          Orange itself is just a name for what sits between red and yellow. We didn't always have a name for orange either.

                                                                                                        • cturner 285 days ago

                                                                                                          Classical works use colour in ways that are confusing to read. You either have to accept that it is describing a fantasy, or that the author's concept of colours is different than ours.

                                                                                                          I had wondered if there was any example from own language of this, in order to get the benefit of that perspective. This seems to be it.

                                                                                                          Perhaps we had a name for brown before orange. Whereas other colours tend to be named for the saturated version.

                                                                                                          Has cultivation changed citrus colours, as with carrots?

                                                                                                        • Waterluvian 285 days ago

                                                                                                          So after all that (it was fantastic) I just want to confirm my understanding: "brown" is literally just "dark orange", correct?

                                                                                                          • Noxmiles 285 days ago

                                                                                                            So, brown is only a cultural construct - actually it's just a dark orange. The Video is amazing. I wish to read more scientific research on this subject.

                                                                                                            • garfieldnate 285 days ago

                                                                                                              Technology Connections is one of my favorite channels! It's one of the few whose videos I consistently watch immediately after release.

                                                                                                              • shultays 286 days ago

                                                                                                                I honestly couldn't see the orange when the square is surrounded by black. It was still brown for me.

                                                                                                                • ackshually 286 days ago

                                                                                                                  Were you in a bright room? That would have given you context, which is what he warned against.

                                                                                                                  • shultays 285 days ago

                                                                                                                    Yea, that might be the case

                                                                                                                • Priem19 285 days ago

                                                                                                                  This was the last topic on which I expected to completely watch the video. Fantastic presentation.

                                                                                                                  • analog31 285 days ago

                                                                                                                    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.

                                                                                                                    • robbrown451 285 days ago

                                                                                                                      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.

                                                                                                                      • JdeBP 285 days ago

                                                                                                                        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.

                                                                                                                        • robbrown451 285 days ago

                                                                                                                          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.

                                                                                                                          • analog31 285 days ago

                                                                                                                            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.

                                                                                                                            • robbrown451 285 days ago

                                                                                                                              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.

                                                                                                                              • analog31 285 days ago

                                                                                                                                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.

                                                                                                                                • robbrown451 284 days ago

                                                                                                                                  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.

                                                                                                                    • rabuse 285 days ago

                                                                                                                      We do have other labels for colors nowadays though (ex. Olive, Khaki, Navy)

                                                                                                                      • kwelstr 285 days ago

                                                                                                                        Why is yellow ignored as a primary color green pushed as a primary color?

                                                                                                                        • a-nikolaev 285 days ago

                                                                                                                          Red, blue, and yellow are subtractive primary colors. E.g. if an object absorbs(subtracts) red light, then under white light it looks green (blue+yellow remained). This is how colors work in painting.

                                                                                                                          On the other hand, your monitor does not absorb colors, but emits it. If you shine red and green light on a white surface (or on your eye directly), you will see green. This is called additive color. RGB (red, green, blue) are primary additive colors.


                                                                                                                          • robbrown451 285 days ago

                                                                                                                            Magenta yellow and cyan are subtractive primaries. Cyan might pass for blue, but magenta really isn't red.

                                                                                                                            And really you could say red green and blue are subtractive primaries (as well as additive), but we use cyan ink because it subtracts red light. (etc)

                                                                                                                            • a-nikolaev 285 days ago

                                                                                                                              Yeah, technically yes, but the poster above refers to the primary colors used in arts, which are red, blue, and yellow. They do represent subtractive colors magenta, cyan, yellow.

                                                                                                                              • robbrown451 285 days ago

                                                                                                                                I'd say red yellow and blue is used in elementary school art class, and not much more. And even then, kids almost always have more colors to work with than three.

                                                                                                                                The subtractive color model isn't really good for paints anyway, it is best with translucent inks/dyes, where the white from the paper comes through.

                                                                                                                            • kwelstr 283 days ago

                                                                                                                              Thank you.

                                                                                                                            • joefkelley 285 days ago

                                                                                                                              Roughly, we have three types of color-sensitive cone cells in our eyes. They each have different behavior in terms of how much they "react" to different wavelengths of light. Take a look at this chart:

                                                                                                                              Each individual wavelength activates all three to some extent: think about this as a point in 3d space. For example, 400nm corresponds to something like (0.1, 0.05, 0.0), from that chart. 500nm might be (0.1, 0.4, 0.3).

                                                                                                                              But we experience a mix of many different wavelengths at once. So we can not only experience just these points in 3d space, but we can also experience any linear combination of any of these points. For instance, a mix of half 400nm and half 500nm light might be "sensed" by us as (0.1, 0.225, 0.15), even though maybe there's no individual wavelength that corresponds to that point. Any linear mix of any number of any wavelengths covers the entire gamut of what we can perceive.

                                                                                                                              The question then for someone picking primary colors for an additive display is: if I can only do a linear mix of three wavelengths, what wavelengths should I pick? What covers the biggest subset of the whole perceptible gamut? It just so happens that red, green, and blue do the best.

                                                                                                                              If you swapped green for yellow, there would be a section in that 3d space that you could no longer create. Specifically, the area where M cones are strongly activated compared to L and S. Unsurprisingly, this would be the greenest greens.

                                                                                                                              • kwelstr 283 days ago

                                                                                                                                Thank you, as a painter this has bothered me for a long time.

                                                                                                                              • cwingrav 285 days ago

                                                                                                                                Additive vs Subtractive colors:

                                                                                                                                • bityard 285 days ago

                                                                                                                                  Because that's not how light works.

                                                                                                                                • sixothree 285 days ago

                                                                                                                                  To be fair, the title is "Brown; color is weird"

                                                                                                                                  • tasogare 286 days ago

                                                                                                                                    tl;dv: "Brown is just orange, but darker."

                                                                                                                                    • jmiserez 286 days ago

                                                                                                                                      "tl;dv" is so new/unused there's no results on Google (or Urban Dictionary for that matter). How is that possible? o_O

                                                                                                                                      • shakna 286 days ago

                                                                                                                                        The more common usage would be "tl;dw"

                                                                                                                                        • tasogare 286 days ago

                                                                                                                                          Yes, I tried to adapt the shortcut with "viewed" but didn’t think of "watched" (not native speaker of English).

                                                                                                                                          • Normal_gaussian 285 days ago

                                                                                                                                            dw was already used for "don't worry", so its a shame shame that tldw caught on instead of tldv

                                                                                                                                            • belinder 285 days ago

                                                                                                                                              when would you use too long dont worry?

                                                                                                                                              • Noxmiles 285 days ago

                                                                                                                                                tl;idc is the real thing you have to use

                                                                                                                                      • pmarin 286 days ago

                                                                                                                                        Not really, it depends on the surrounding context like it's explained on the video.

                                                                                                                                        • brianmcc 285 days ago

                                                                                                                                          Being colourblind I wasn't going to bother with this video but this and the other comments about his series have piqued my interest!

                                                                                                                                        • t_treesap 285 days ago

                                                                                                                                          I used to like this guy, and his factual information is usually interesting, but he sometimes expresses opinions that downright infuriate me, to the point I had to stop listening.

                                                                                                                                        • gowld 285 days ago

                                                                                                                                          Everytime he said "context", he should have said "contrast".

                                                                                                                                          He also didn't mention that grey is dark white, by the same phenomenon.

                                                                                                                                          And of course red is dark pink, for rooster teeth fans.

                                                                                                                                          • sneakernets 285 days ago

                                                                                                                                            Well, Contrast is usually in parlance as extremes. I think he means in context of what else is in the image, not just contrast. For example, you can have a "dark green" and "dark orange" used in a graphic of a tree on a black background, and you would perceive it as brown due to the context of the "tree-ness" on your screen.

                                                                                                                                          • GistNoesis 286 days ago

                                                                                                                                            Color is cool. Let's add another dimension to this video.

                                                                                                                                            It's one way of conveying information the brain can interpret in a flexible way.

                                                                                                                                            But the brain is also good at depth perception. Let's combine these :

                                                                                                                                            For example in the app I released yesterday StlToRelief :

                                                                                                                                            I use a color gradient to increase the perception of depth. It makes a thin bas-relief standout.

                                                                                                                                            With color-mixing 3d-printing this is an effect we can now exploit.

                                                                                                                                            There is a closely related phenomena that we have when doing war paints for camouflage. Area (i.e. peaks like the nose) that would naturally catch the light appear brighter so you have to paint them dark while hollow area that naturally appear dark must be painted white. The resulting painting make a face look flat which stand out less.