Blue and perhaps why it’s my favorite color
Interesting facts about the color blue, reported by Natalie Angier in the NY Times:
For the French Fauvist painter and color gourmand Raoul Dufy, blue was the only color with enough strength of character to remain blue “in all its tones.” Darkened red looks brown and whitened red turns pink, Dufy said, while yellow blackens with shading and fades away in the light. But blue can be brightened or dimmed, the artist said, and “it will always stay blue.”
Scientists, too, have lately been bullish on blue, captivated by its optical purity, complexity and metaphorical fluency. They’re exploring the physics and chemistry of blueness in nature, the evolution of blue ornaments and blue come-ons, and the sheer brazenness of being blue when most earthly life forms opt for earthy raiments of beige, ruddy or taupe.
One research team recently reported the structural analysis of a small, dazzlingly blue fruit from the African Pollia condensata plant that may well be the brightest terrestrial object in nature. Another group working in the central Congo basin announced the discovery of a new species of monkey, a rare event in mammalogy. Rarer still is the noteworthiest trait of the monkey, called the lesula: a patch of brilliant blue skin on the male’s buttocks and scrotal area that stands out from the surrounding fur like neon underpants.
Still other researchers are tracing the history of blue pigments in human culture, and the role those pigments have played in shaping our notions of virtue, authority, divinity and social class. “Blue pigments played an outstanding role in human development,” said Heinz Berke, an emeritus professor of chemistry at the University of Zurich. For some cultures, he said, they were as valuable as gold.
As a raft of surveys has shown, blue love is a global affair. Ask people their favorite color, and in most parts of the world roughly half will say blue, a figure three to four times the support accorded common second-place finishers like purple or green. Just one in six Americans is blue-eyed, but nearly one in two consider blue the prettiest eye color, which could be why some 50 percent of tinted contact lenses sold are the kind that make your brown eyes blue.
Sick children like their caretakers in blue: A recent study at the Cleveland Clinic found that young patients preferred nurses wearing blue uniforms to those in white or yellow. And am I the only person in the United States who doesn’t own a single pair of those permanently popular pants formerly known as dungarees?
“For Americans, bluejeans have a special connotation because of their association with the Old West and rugged individualism,” said Steven Bleicher, author of “Contemporary Color: Theory and Use.” The jeans take their John Wayne reputation seriously. “Because the indigo dye fades during washing, everyone’s blue becomes uniquely different,” said Dr. Bleicher, a professor of visual arts at Coastal Carolina University. “They’re your bluejeans.”
According to psychologists who explore the complex interplay of color, mood and behavior, blue’s basic emotional valence is . . .