A Natural History of Color: The Science Behind What We See and How We See it

A Natural History of Color: The Science Behind What We See and How We See it

by Rob DeSalle, Hans Bachor


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A star curator at the American Museum of Natural History widens the palette and shows how the physical, natural, and cultural context of color are inextricably tied to what we see right before our eyes.

Is color a phenomenon of science or a thing of art? Over the years, color has dazzled, enhanced, and clarified the world we see, embraced through the experimental palettes of painting, the advent of the color photograph, Technicolor pictures, color printing, on and on, a vivid and vibrant celebrated continuum. These turns to represent reality in “living color” echo our evolutionary reliance on and indeed privileging of color as a complex and vital form of consumption, classification, and creation. It’s everywhere we look, yet do we really know much of anything about it?

Finding color in stars and light, examining the system of classification that determines survival through natural selection, studying the arrival of color in our universe and as a fulcrum for philosophy, DeSalle’s brilliant A Natural History of Color establishes that an understanding of color on many different levels is at the heart of learning about nature, neurobiology, individualism, even a philosophy of existence. Color and a fine tuned understanding of it is vital to understanding ourselves and our consciousness.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781643134420
Publisher: Pegasus Books
Publication date: 07/07/2020
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 419,818
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Rob DeSalle is curator at the American Museum of Natural History, where he has curated or cocurated six highly praised exhibitions and leads a research group in the Institute for Comparative Genomics. He is the author or coauthor of fifteen books, including Our Senses, Welcome to the Genome, The Accidental Homo Sapiens and The Brain: Big Bangs, Behaviors and Beliefs. He lives in New York City.

Hans Bachor is based in Canberra Australia. He is Emeritus Professor at The Australian National University, from where he has pioneered experimental quantum optics in Australia and is co-author to the Guide to Experiments in Quantum Optics. As Mind in Residence at Questacon - the National Science and Technology Centre he contributes to science communication with his science shows. Through the The Australian Academy of Science he fosters education and raises the public awareness of science.

Table of Contents

Prologue ix

1 The Color of the Universe 1

2 Color without Eyes 32

3 Color with Eyes 62

4 The Colors of Evolution 90

5 Gary Larson's Animal Coloring Book 120

6 The Colors of History and Culture 149

7 The Color of Humans 181

8 The Color of Our Minds 201

Epilogue: The Color of Existence 221

Appendix 225

Bibliography 229

Acknowledgments 241

Index 243

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