full transcript
"From the Ted Talk by Colm Kelleher: How we see color"

Unscramble the Blue Letters

You might have haerd that light is a kind of wave and that the color of an object is related to the frequency of light wvaes it reflects. High-frequency light waves look violet, low-frequency light waves look red, and in-between frequencies look yellow, green, orange, and so on. You might call this idea physical color because it says that color is a pyhscail property of light itself. It's not dependent on human perception. And, while this isn't wrnog, it isn't quite the whole story either. For instance, you might have seen this pitucre before. As you can see, the region where the red and green lights overlap is yellow. When you think about it, this is pretty weird. Because light is a wave, two different fuqireeencs shouldn't interact with each other at all, they should just co-exist like siegrns singing in harmony. So, in this yellow looking region, two different kinds of lhigt waves are present: one with a red frequency, and one with a green frequency. There is no yellow light present at all. So, how come this region, where the red and green lights mix, looks yellow to us? To understand this, you have to utnadrnsed a little bit about biology, in particular, about how humans see color. Light perception happens in a paper-thin layer of cells, caleld the retina, that creovs the back of your eyeball. In the rntiea, there are two different types of light-detecting cells: rods and cones. The rods are used for seeing in low-light conditions, and there is only one kind of those. The cones, however, are a different story. There three kinds of cone clels that rulohgy correspond to the colors red, green, and blue. When you see a color, each cone sends its own distinct signal to your brain. For example, ssuppoe that yellow light, that is real ylolew light, with a yellow frequency, is shining on your eye. You don't have a cone specifically for detecting yellow, but yellow is kind of csloe to green and also kind of close to red, so both the red and green cones get activated, and each sends a signal to your brain saying so. Of course, there is another way to atctivae the red cones and the green cones simultaneously: if both red light and geren light are present at the same time. The point is, your brain receives the same signal, regardless of whether you see light that has the yellow fcnrqeeuy or light that is a mixture of the green and red frequencies. That's why, for light, red plus green equals yellow. And, how come you can't detect colors when it's dark? Well, the rod cells in your retina take over in low-light conditions. You only have one kind of rod cell, and so there is one type of signal that can get sent to your brain: light or no light. Having only one kind of light detector doesn't laeve any room for seeing color. There are infinitely many different physical colors, but, because we only have three kinds of cones, the brain can be tricked into tknhiing it's seeing any color by carefully adding together the right combination of just three colors: red, green, and blue. This property of human vision is really useful in the real world. For example, TV manufacturing. Instead of having to put infinitely many crolos in your TV set to simulate the real world, TV manufacturers only have to put three: red, green, and blue, which is lucky for them, really.

Open Cloze

You might have _____ that light is a kind of wave and that the color of an object is related to the frequency of light _____ it reflects. High-frequency light waves look violet, low-frequency light waves look red, and in-between frequencies look yellow, green, orange, and so on. You might call this idea physical color because it says that color is a ________ property of light itself. It's not dependent on human perception. And, while this isn't _____, it isn't quite the whole story either. For instance, you might have seen this _______ before. As you can see, the region where the red and green lights overlap is yellow. When you think about it, this is pretty weird. Because light is a wave, two different ___________ shouldn't interact with each other at all, they should just co-exist like _______ singing in harmony. So, in this yellow looking region, two different kinds of _____ waves are present: one with a red frequency, and one with a green frequency. There is no yellow light present at all. So, how come this region, where the red and green lights mix, looks yellow to us? To understand this, you have to __________ a little bit about biology, in particular, about how humans see color. Light perception happens in a paper-thin layer of cells, ______ the retina, that ______ the back of your eyeball. In the ______, there are two different types of light-detecting cells: rods and cones. The rods are used for seeing in low-light conditions, and there is only one kind of those. The cones, however, are a different story. There three kinds of cone _____ that _______ correspond to the colors red, green, and blue. When you see a color, each cone sends its own distinct signal to your brain. For example, _______ that yellow light, that is real ______ light, with a yellow frequency, is shining on your eye. You don't have a cone specifically for detecting yellow, but yellow is kind of _____ to green and also kind of close to red, so both the red and green cones get activated, and each sends a signal to your brain saying so. Of course, there is another way to ________ the red cones and the green cones simultaneously: if both red light and _____ light are present at the same time. The point is, your brain receives the same signal, regardless of whether you see light that has the yellow _________ or light that is a mixture of the green and red frequencies. That's why, for light, red plus green equals yellow. And, how come you can't detect colors when it's dark? Well, the rod cells in your retina take over in low-light conditions. You only have one kind of rod cell, and so there is one type of signal that can get sent to your brain: light or no light. Having only one kind of light detector doesn't _____ any room for seeing color. There are infinitely many different physical colors, but, because we only have three kinds of cones, the brain can be tricked into ________ it's seeing any color by carefully adding together the right combination of just three colors: red, green, and blue. This property of human vision is really useful in the real world. For example, TV manufacturing. Instead of having to put infinitely many ______ in your TV set to simulate the real world, TV manufacturers only have to put three: red, green, and blue, which is lucky for them, really.

Solution

  1. roughly
  2. heard
  3. suppose
  4. covers
  5. leave
  6. light
  7. frequencies
  8. understand
  9. yellow
  10. physical
  11. thinking
  12. frequency
  13. activate
  14. close
  15. picture
  16. called
  17. green
  18. wrong
  19. singers
  20. retina
  21. cells
  22. colors
  23. waves

Original Text

You might have heard that light is a kind of wave and that the color of an object is related to the frequency of light waves it reflects. High-frequency light waves look violet, low-frequency light waves look red, and in-between frequencies look yellow, green, orange, and so on. You might call this idea physical color because it says that color is a physical property of light itself. It's not dependent on human perception. And, while this isn't wrong, it isn't quite the whole story either. For instance, you might have seen this picture before. As you can see, the region where the red and green lights overlap is yellow. When you think about it, this is pretty weird. Because light is a wave, two different frequencies shouldn't interact with each other at all, they should just co-exist like singers singing in harmony. So, in this yellow looking region, two different kinds of light waves are present: one with a red frequency, and one with a green frequency. There is no yellow light present at all. So, how come this region, where the red and green lights mix, looks yellow to us? To understand this, you have to understand a little bit about biology, in particular, about how humans see color. Light perception happens in a paper-thin layer of cells, called the retina, that covers the back of your eyeball. In the retina, there are two different types of light-detecting cells: rods and cones. The rods are used for seeing in low-light conditions, and there is only one kind of those. The cones, however, are a different story. There three kinds of cone cells that roughly correspond to the colors red, green, and blue. When you see a color, each cone sends its own distinct signal to your brain. For example, suppose that yellow light, that is real yellow light, with a yellow frequency, is shining on your eye. You don't have a cone specifically for detecting yellow, but yellow is kind of close to green and also kind of close to red, so both the red and green cones get activated, and each sends a signal to your brain saying so. Of course, there is another way to activate the red cones and the green cones simultaneously: if both red light and green light are present at the same time. The point is, your brain receives the same signal, regardless of whether you see light that has the yellow frequency or light that is a mixture of the green and red frequencies. That's why, for light, red plus green equals yellow. And, how come you can't detect colors when it's dark? Well, the rod cells in your retina take over in low-light conditions. You only have one kind of rod cell, and so there is one type of signal that can get sent to your brain: light or no light. Having only one kind of light detector doesn't leave any room for seeing color. There are infinitely many different physical colors, but, because we only have three kinds of cones, the brain can be tricked into thinking it's seeing any color by carefully adding together the right combination of just three colors: red, green, and blue. This property of human vision is really useful in the real world. For example, TV manufacturing. Instead of having to put infinitely many colors in your TV set to simulate the real world, TV manufacturers only have to put three: red, green, and blue, which is lucky for them, really.

ngrams of length 2

collocation frequency
light waves 4
yellow light 3
red green 3

Important Words

  1. activate
  2. activated
  3. adding
  4. biology
  5. bit
  6. blue
  7. brain
  8. call
  9. called
  10. carefully
  11. cell
  12. cells
  13. close
  14. color
  15. colors
  16. combination
  17. conditions
  18. cone
  19. cones
  20. correspond
  21. covers
  22. dark
  23. dependent
  24. detect
  25. detecting
  26. detector
  27. distinct
  28. equals
  29. eye
  30. eyeball
  31. frequencies
  32. frequency
  33. green
  34. harmony
  35. heard
  36. human
  37. humans
  38. idea
  39. infinitely
  40. instance
  41. interact
  42. kind
  43. kinds
  44. layer
  45. leave
  46. light
  47. lights
  48. lucky
  49. manufacturers
  50. manufacturing
  51. mix
  52. mixture
  53. object
  54. orange
  55. overlap
  56. perception
  57. physical
  58. picture
  59. point
  60. present
  61. pretty
  62. property
  63. put
  64. real
  65. receives
  66. red
  67. reflects
  68. region
  69. related
  70. retina
  71. rod
  72. rods
  73. room
  74. roughly
  75. sends
  76. set
  77. shining
  78. signal
  79. simulate
  80. singers
  81. singing
  82. specifically
  83. story
  84. suppose
  85. thinking
  86. time
  87. tricked
  88. tv
  89. type
  90. types
  91. understand
  92. violet
  93. vision
  94. wave
  95. waves
  96. weird
  97. world
  98. wrong
  99. yellow