Featured Exhibit – Colored Shadows


Look at all those colors! That’s all one hand.

What color is a shadow? Black? As you will see, not always. It depends on what colors of light you have available to block. If you have three lights and you block two of them, the shadow formed is the color of the remaining light. But what if you only block one of them? That’s where it gets interesting.

Did you know that humans only see three different colors. Wait! That’s not true, we see lots of colors. But it is true at the same time. How can that be?

To be more clear, your eyes have special cells called cones that “see” color. But humans only have cones that respond to red light, to blue light, and to green light. So how do you see something like yellow? Because of your brain!

Yellow excites both the red and green cones in your eyes. When both signals are sent to your brain, it combines those colors into yellow.

You can experiment with this phenomenon and many others at the Colored Shadows exhibit.