Magenta Is All In Your Head

By | February 27, 2020


[♩INTRO] The world is full of colors. Some vibrant, some dull, and some… that
are all in our heads. In fact, you’re looking at a color on-screen
right now that, in a sense, doesn’t even exist. Unlike virtually all other colors, there’s no wavelength of light to describe
it, but we see it anyway. It’s magenta. And it’s nothing but a trick from your brain. Our eyes can see things because in the back
of the eye, there are millions of receptors called rods
and cones. Rods are sensitive to light intensity and
movement, while cones are the receptors that see color
and fine detail. There are all kinds of cones out there in
the animal kingdom, but humans have three types of them: one that detects long wavelengths like red
light, one that detects medium wavelengths like green
light, and one for short wavelengths like blue light. When light enters the eye, it causes some
of these cones to fire depending on what wavelength it is. So, if you’re looking at a red apple, your
long wavelength cones might fire. Or if you’re looking at the sky, your short
wavelength — or blue cones — might. But as you might have learned, or noticed, there are more than three colors in the world. So, how do we get by with only three types
of cones? Well, our eyes kind of cheat. Because while each type of cone is most sensitive
to a specific color, they actually respond to a range of wavelengths. And most importantly, those ranges overlap. So, let’s say you’re looking at something
yellow. On the visible spectrum, which is the range of wavelengths we’ve
assigned colors to, yellow is between green and red. So if you have typical color vision, when
you see a yellow object, your red cones fire a little and your green
cones fire a little, but your blue cones have no stimulation. Your brain interprets that unique pattern and knows whatever you’re staring at must
be something in-between red and green. So, yellow! Something similar happens when you’re looking
at cyan. In that case, both your green and blue cones
fire, because cyan is in-between green and blue. But what happens when you look at an object that makes only your red and blue cones fire? At first, you might think you’d see green,
since on the visible spectrum, that’s the color between red and blue. But remember: Your green cones aren’t firing. So, what does your brain do? It makes up a color. And this is when we see magenta. Unfortunately, it’s hard to say exactly
why our brains make up this specific color. Like, there’s nothing that seems to be particularly
special about magenta. But we see it anyway, on everything from billboards
to T-shirts. And that is really weird. I mean, pretty much all the other colors we
see have one specific wavelength we can use to
describe them. But that’s not true of magenta. That color is nowhere to be found on the visible
spectrum it’s just the odd way our brains happen
to respond when hit with red and blue light. That makes magenta what’s called a non-spectral
color: a color that can only be described by combining multiple, non-adjacent wavelengths
of light. It sounds bizarre, but our brains do this
sort of thing all the time processing the world in strange ways to help make sense of everything around us. And hey, if that gets us a nice color like
magenta… it can’t be all that bad. [♩OUTRO]

100 thoughts on “Magenta Is All In Your Head

  1. Forrest Greene Post author

    We can make magenta with light and by mixing pigments. It exists. It's why you can't represent the color with a circular chart or a line. You need a loop of the visible colors in said line.

    Reply
  2. MrVanillaCaramel Post author

    The same is more true for a brown because there's no such thing as brown light, it's just blackish orange surrounded by lighter colors.
    The same might be slightly true for pink because it does not look like whitish red, so maybe the brain invents that color too.

    Reply
  3. Ante Brkic Post author

    So it's really just a clickbait. Pink color obviously exists but it is not monochromatic color and therefore not part of the rainbow.

    Reply
  4. Paul Deddens Post author

    Theres a very good reason why we see Magenta.
    Its color files are missing. Happens all the time in stuff like GMOD.

    Reply
  5. Alexis Welsh Post author

    There are some people who have four types of cones, these are sometimes called "Yellow cones". I wonder what type of wavelengths they pick up?

    Reply
  6. Jared Pool Post author

    Colours only exist in your head. So it's a bit of clickbait that damages the truth really to say it doesn't.

    Reply
  7. Zefo No Post author

    You keep saying Magenta but, from what's in the video, looks like ALL purple colors are made up.

    Reply
  8. 109Rage Post author

    Basically, our brains don't see wavelengths of light. We see combinations of three points, and so our brains don't care if there's wavelengths longer or shorter than red or blue—just that Magenta is the color associated with the long and short cones being stimulated.

    Reply
  9. CoolStoryBruh Post author

    So if magenta doesn't exist on the visual spectrum, what does a spectrograph/computer see when it looks at a magenta object? What would a magenta object look like if our brain's didn't fabricate the color?

    Reply
  10. Rohan Sharma Post author

    This is not correct… I've seen a very similar video except they said it was PURPLE that was a mix of red and blue, but colors like MAGENTA AND CYAN are legit. Inkjet printers use only cyan, magenta, yellow, and black color scheme. I also fin it very odd that the color CYAN is never mentioned when discussing the colors of the visible spectum or the rainbow when anyone with eyes to see can clearly see a bright strip of yellow and cyan (sky blue) color strips on each side of green. They conveniently left it out of the light spectrum on this video, but you check any other visible light spectrum and you will see the color cyan, or turquioise, aquamarine, teal, ect.

    Maybe even more obvious then that is the fact that you can see colors like cyan or magenta as a negative in yours eyes…. like if you stare at a redorange color like a coca cola bottle, then look at a blank white wall u can see the color cyan. And since these color afterimage effects tend to reduce it down to one simple color, why do we see cyan if it doesn't exist? And how do two darker colors make a lighter color.

    Infact, the red/blue/green color scheme is only one way to look at it, its additive i think, but subtractive color is cyan, magenta, yellow… so the cones could be those colors and the rods (nightvision) distinguish black and white light, and you can get the same color schemes. I've read also that the cones aren't specifically red/blue/green but just work on a ratio or relationship difference between each other…. which is why if u stare at certain colors or optical illusions your brain gets tricked into thinking grey is green or this peach color looks more reddish or yellow, ect.

    Reply
  11. Nacho Post author

    ALL COLORS are in your head. Your magenta could be different to mine. Try to decribe any color in words. Its all in your Head Buddy!

    Reply
  12. Knowledge Owl Post author

    There are kinds of colors which don't correspond to one frequency of light, but a combination of them: they called "polychromatic". For example, there isn't a "white wavelength", the sensation of white is caused by polychromatic light. Using a prism it's possible to decompose polychromatic light into a monocromatic one. So, I believe that the statement "magenta doesn't exist" isn't precise, the rigorous way to put it would be "magenta isn't monocromatic".

    Reply
  13. VS M Post author

    What’s special about magenta is that it’s the true primary “red” pigment (you can make red using magenta and yellow). That’s noteworthy imo.

    Reply
  14. A Very Disappointed Red Engineer Post author

    Whenever people talk about colors that don't exist, I'm like sure ok. But we all experience them, so why does it matter if the color doesn't technically exist. Our minds made a new color and that's way more interesting than just saying that this color doesn't exist.

    It's like whenever someone brings up strawberries not actually being berries or fruit.

    Reply
  15. Aidan Or Post author

    I think there's a Minute Physics video that explains how pink (similar to magenta) is what white light looks like of you remove all green wavelengths.

    Reply
  16. Home Theatre Engineering Post author

    So this is interesting. I calibrate TV's using a colorimeter and spectroradiometer. Obviously I work with primary colors red, green, blue.. but I also measure and adjust cyan yellow and magenta which are measured co-ordinates in the REC709 (and other) color space. If Magenta does not exist then what are my instruments measuring? Or are you saying that while I am measuring the light input then we as humans are just designating that data as "magenta" ? But if it doesnt have a wavelength then what is it my instruments measure when the results of that measurement comes back as "Magenta" and that is also what I can see. Plus I can measure and adjust its hue, saturation and luminance??? Im a bit confused 🙂

    Reply
  17. Richard Alexander Post author

    I noticed some blue inside the magenta when the flower was displayed but nothing of pure red. I might have only imagined it, but I wonder if our brains create the color magenta as an average value of some kind between red and blue. Something unique to each person as we all see color a little bit different from each other.

    Reply
  18. Ginny Jolly Post author

    Yes, I did wonder if magenta had a spectral designation. It's weird that it doesn't, but I expect brown falls in the same category.

    But don't tell me I don't see purple. There IS a spectral designation for that. Just because an observer is colorblind and can't see a difference doesn't mean that I can't.

    Reply
  19. Nate's Film Tutorials Post author

    SciShow Psych: “Magenta does exist!”

    Blues Clues: ….

    Reply
  20. fairymairah Post author

    I thought Magenta was an Alternate Pink or Something 💓💕💗💝💞💟💌💖👚👜👝🛍👡 !

    Reply
  21. frosty ruu Post author

    So if magenta is a brain made color, does everyone experience the same color?? Everybody's brain is different so it would make sense in a way

    Reply
  22. VenomSnake1984 Post author

    "if it gets us a nice color like magenta, it cant be all that bad :)"
    h.p. lovecraft has left the chat

    Reply
  23. Major Robinson Post author

    The real primary colors are cyan magenta and yellow and that's on wavelength💅🏽💅🏽

    Reply
  24. kel2580 Post author

    Obvious, there are some colors we cannot see, so why would it be so spectacular to have the ability to see something outside of our knowledge of where things come from? Isn't space like that? We perceive things to be one way or another, just to observe that things in space are not as we know things to be. Quantum mechanics answers that question.

    Reply
  25. Harumone Post author

    i think it's funny that Hank Green hosted a video about color that didn't use green cone

    Reply
  26. Xen Orac Post author

    I kinda thought you would have gone a little more in depth with this, really wanted you too,

    Reply
  27. Ashley Smith Post author

    What if colors didn't work on a linear X- Y spectrum of light, wheere the shprere is R B Y at certain points with secondary colors in between with each diagonal adjacent pole being white to black? i wonder what colors we'd see that wouldn't appear elsewhere

    Reply
  28. Azrael Post author

    There are only the colors of the rainbow in various light, medium, and dark shades. All these other made-up colors are because human beings get bored easily.

    Reply
  29. Toaster Post author

    Aint the three starting colors red-yellow-blue and not red-green-blue

    Reply
  30. Raquel Saabe Post author

    Im so gonna talk about this next time I smoke a joint. 😆

    Reply
  31. Moist von Lipwig Post author

    Arguably brown isn't really a color either, it's just a weird, dark orange.

    Reply
  32. Patrick Lewis Post author

    Have you folks ever done a show about how culture/language can affect the ability to discern close wavelengths of light? The big offender tends to be blue or green.

    Reply
  33. Inhuman Filth Post author

    Magenta was not "all in my head" she was in the rocky horror picture show and she was fine as hell lol

    Reply
  34. Inhuman Filth Post author

    Non spectral color, i think i understand.

    so gosts cant see it?

    Reply
  35. Arthur Zettel Post author

    Magenda is part of a man made color pallet to mix paint into other colors. Purple lilacs are in the spectrum of Magenda.

    Reply
  36. Carpe Mkarzi Post author

    That was amazing. Reality is what your brain makes of it apparently.

    Reply
  37. nyx. 23 Post author

    So this is why they chose magenta for the new lovecraft movie

    Reply
  38. deadfr0g Post author

    Oh no! Is magenta where the wavelengths “loop back around” and close the colour wheel that we perceive? Because I always just assumed that point was at indigo, which (in my head) would explain why people differ on how they perceive indigo.

    I can’t take this kind of suspense! I need to watch this video!!

    Reply
  39. Dylan Purdy Post author

    In gmod anything without a skin (or light in this situation) gets a magenta and black checkered pattern

    I'll let you decide what to do this this info

    Reply
  40. Stephanie Baker Post author

    Thanks for another informative and fun video Hank! I'm curious about this strange phenomenon and I'm wondering this: if our red and blue cones are firing, why do we not see purple? Why magenta? It makes more sense to me since blue + red = purple. It's a lovely non-spectral color but it's really weird that our brain processes it the way it does. 🤔

    Reply
  41. Jackson Percy Post author

    Technology Connections made some really good in-depth videos about all the oddities of colours, including magenta and brown (which is actually just dark orange)

    Reply
  42. bighoov1 Post author

    Now here's something… what does yellow really look like…the world may never know…

    Reply
  43. ferdie ramadhany Post author

    What if the spectrum of color are circular not linear?

    Reply
  44. mx ultra Post author

    OK I'm confused. He keeps showing different colors for magenta.

    Reply
  45. Rusty Carlos Valdez Post author

    I want to find a magenta looking color now and stare it and see if my brain would change the color for no reason

    Reply
  46. Animiles Post author

    When I look with my left eye everything has a slight blue-ish hue, and when I look with my right eye everything has a slight orange-ish hue. Is this normal? And why does it happen?

    Reply
  47. John Valdes Post author

    I always knew Steve, Joe, and Miranda were crazy! Next thing you know, we'll find out Blue is an imaginary color too

    Reply
  48. - Post author

    • Magenta is a color out of space (and line)
    • Do other creatures with SML cones experience the same qualia? Other animals on Earth? Aliens?
    • Is there any sort of question or test to determine what qualia even another human experiences? 🤔

    Reply
  49. bushideku Post author

    Whoa i wonder if my brain can generate more colour thatd be cool

    Reply
  50. Petr Kruglov Post author

    This video is wrong and misleading on many levels.
    Magenta do exist and it's real (most of us see it, right?), color not a wavelength, color is thing that we perceive. All colors are real or all of them are not – depends on what definition of "real" you choose.
    2:06 – hell no! why would i think that red + blue = green? it's stupid. Wavelengths range is one dimensional, not our perception of colors.
    2:17 – "it makes up a color", what does it mean – "makes up"? This is how vision work, with ANY color, nothing special about magenta, nothing at all.
    2:22 – again, brain "make up" all colors, nothing special about magenta.
    2:36 – no, it's not, pretty much all of the colors in real life isn't a single wavelength. Not sure, but i think most of the people probably never experienced a single wavelength colors.
    Whole video messing very different matters together, fails to explain how everything work in separate steps of vision and how color is produced, something like: wavelengths -> cones -> perceived colors.

    Reply
  51. Cambesa Post author

    I program games and when something is wrong with rendering I always use bright magenta, as if my brain knows there's something odd about that color

    Reply
  52. hatfieldrick Post author

    Of course it exists! You think nature just makes this stuff up? The human organism does a very clever job of overcoming its limitations to perceive the color, but that doesn't mean it's just some kind of con job. Nothing is random; everything has meaning. If you had the right kind of eyes to see multiple octaves of light you'd see frequencies within each octave corresponding to magenta. Don't you have any intuition at all? Gaaah! Stupid humans!

    Reply
  53. annoloki Post author

    No. Wrong. This isn't what the word "colour" means. If magenta isn't real, neither is white, grey, which are also superpositions of multiple frequencies, like playing a chord – a superposition of three different notes – you don't hear the sound in the middle of the frequencies, you hear the combination. Nobody uses the word "colour" to mean "a single coherent frequency of visible light", that's an imaginary fact that your brain is tricking you with.

    Reply
  54. aydee peperoni Post author

    Wow… Im not usually interested in those subjects and I don't really get them, but wow. This video explained it perfectly and I understood what it was trying to say, also its very amazing how our brains can do such a thing.

    Reply
  55. Mark Susskind Post author

    When we look at those memes where we stare at a dot in the centre of a foto negative for a minute, then, when we suddenly look at a white space, we presumably see the foto positive. Magenta is the negative of green. CMYK versus RGB

    Reply

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