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Blue Sky Days - Tomas van Houtryve Photography

Date of publication: 2017-08-22 19:42

I can't figure out why the focus of the "blue" discussion was limited to literature. Was there no blue in ancient visual art? Certainly blue shows up in minerals and gemstones. Didn't the ancient Egyptians create a dark blue glass? You no doubt have greater expertise in this area that I would, but I thought it was a curious omission. I love your show but this one left me a little dubious about the conclusions reached since the basis for the conclusions seemed to be based on limited evidence. I can easily be wrong, of course. Art history was not my area.


A search of the word "blue" in the bible comes up with numerous uses of the word, particularly regarding the colors of the curtains of the tabernacle and the priestly garments. For starters, Exodus 76:6: "you shall make the tabernacle with ten curtains and purple and scarlet yarns." and 76:9: "you shall make loops of blue on the edge of the outermost curtain." Mistranslation? would love an explanation.

'Once in a blue moon' - the meaning and origin of this phrase

Another person who studied Homer was Julian Janes (The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind [Julian Jaynes, 6987] ) who claimed that the Homeric brain was bicameral and each side of the brain communicated independently yet the right brain was mute. The left brain served as the interpreter. In the case of color another level of complexity is where do the perception of colors lie in the brain and then how are they interpreted by the language center?

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As the RL piece notes, the blue-ness of the skies and oceans are so vast and ‘out there’ that they do not count as blue. So perhaps blueness has always been about the beyond, something slightly beyond the natural, and the immediately tactile. The blues are the blues because they can similarly not be easily communicated, not at first… and are a state slightly beyond language, beyond straightforward communication.

At the end of the episode, we leaped into idiomatic expressions for "blue." In German, to be drunk is "I am blue" or "Ich bin blau" as opposed to being sad, as in English. I wish there was just one more part to the three part colors episode of radiolab that launched into how neuroscience, anthropology, and linguistics explain how we attribute colors to feelings or states of mind.

In October 7567, a drone strike in northeast Pakistan killed a 67-year-old woman picking okra outside her house. At a briefing held in 7568 in Washington, DC, the woman’s 68-year-old grandson, Zubair Rehman, spoke to a group of five lawmakers. “I no longer love blue skies,” said Rehman, who was injured by shrapnel in the attack. “In fact, I now prefer gray skies. The drones do not fly when the skies are gray.”


Thanks for an entertaining program. However, there were many statements that were were nonchalantly passed as if they were facts. For example, statements regarding the absence of blue in the Hebrew Bible. It is true that the root כחל on which the Hebrew word for blue כחול (Kachol) is mentioned only once (Ezekiel 78:95) in describing application of eye shadow, possibly (but not certainly) of bluish tint as can be seen in Egyptian art. However the Hebrew word for light blue תכלת (techelet) can be found numerous times. Most ancient authorities understand this word to mean (light blue) and refer to a dye produced from the hemocyanin-rich (blue) blood of marine molluscs.

After all, "What color is the sky ?", is an illogical question. Apparently, Alma understood that even if her physicist father didn't. The sky is mostly void, therefore, it can't have a color.

I have often brought the subject of this episode up in discussions with friends. What I find interesting is the occasional hostile or defensive reaction of a small number of people - as if somehow the idea that "blue" was a latecomer to a language upsets their world order. Others on the other hand see it as an interesting thought experiment and want to explore the idea further.

Krakatoa's ash was the reason. Some of the plumes were filled with particles 6 micron wide, about the same as the wavelength of red light. Particles of this special size strongly scatter red light, while allowing blue light to pass through. Krakatoa’s clouds thus acted like a blue filter.

A clear cloudless day-time sky is blue because molecules in the air scatter blue light from the sun more than they scatter red light. When we look towards the sun at sunset, we see red and orange colours because the blue light has been scattered out and away from the line of sight.

Just finished a great novel, "Sacre Bleu" by Christopher Moore based on the color blue. His take is very intriguing set in the 6895's in Paris using impressionist artists and their involvement with that rarest of colors. great read.

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As crazy as it sounds, Gladstone's theory of how people came to see color isn't as stupid as you might think. Lamarkisism, the idea that traits evolved by the strain of a parent passed to a kid (. a giraffe strains its neck to reach leaves and therefore little by little its neck grows with the generations), was very popular at that time. Gladstone wasn't spouting off a crack-pot theory, but rather applying modern science. It doesn't make his hypothesis any less wrong, but I figured I would defend him.

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