Colors of Our World

September 15, 2007 - December 31, 2007

color, n. 1. the quality of an object or substance with respect to light reflected by it 2. the natural appearance of the skin. 3. vivid or distinctive quality. 4. pigment or tint. 5. attitude or personality

- The Random House Dictionary


This is the color of your office.  


This is the color of your lawn.  


This is the color of your dog.  

Imagine if your lawn was rose-colored or your dog was lime-green! Could you work comfortably and efficiently in an office painted purple?

Colors! We're surrounded by color yet how often do we think about the effect colors have on us? How do colors effect our moods, our spirit? What colors look good on us? And what colors are in fashion today? How do certain colors act as protection for some animals? Why are most leaves green in the spring? How do we convey the color 'blue' to a blind person? Why do we use the color 'red' to mean danger or success (China) or to connote holiness (Sub-saharan Africa)? What is color anyway?

Pages and pages have been written about just the color yellow, just the color red, the color blue, and all the other colors of our world. Imagine a 129-page chronological bibliography on color theory. It exists! Look around you and try to count the many shades of yellow or blue or brown. We know that our computer screens display the standard 256-color palette. The color of the text you are reading is #FFFFCC in case you're wondering.

Patrons find the answers to these questions and more in "Colors of Our World", the Evans Library Displays latest presentation. Print and online resources move the patron toward a better understanding of color and its relation to art, space, nature, the sea, and the human psyche.

What's your favorite color? Why?

As the following (partial) list of library resources will show, colors impact every part of our physical world and our lives:

Gruppe on Color: Using Expressive Color Emile A. Gruppe ND1489 .G75 1979
The Art of Color: the Subjective Experience and Objective Rationale of Color Joahnnes Itten ND1488 I8713 1973
Chemistry: Molecules, Matter, and Change Peter W. Atkins QD31.2 .A75 1997
Analytical Applications of Bioluminescence and Chemilluminescence American Society of Photobiology NAS 1.21: SP - 388
Pennsylvania German Folk Art from the Index of American Design The Index of American Design SI 8.2: F71/1
Folk Arts of the Spanish Southwest from the Index of American Design The Index of American Design SI 8.2: F71
Color Victoria Finlay Available through ILL
Color In Use Interchemical Corporation Research Laboratories QD473 .C684 NO.3
The History of Physics Isaac Asimov QC23 .A79 1984
Designer's Guide to Color, vol. 1-3 no text ND1488 .D47 1984
The Meanings of Modern Art John Russell N6447 .R87 1981
Aquagenesis: The Origin and Evolution of Life in the Sea Richard Ellis QL121 .E579 2001
Measured Optical Properties of Several Pacific Fishes James H. Churnside C 55.13/2:ERL WPL-193
The Occurrence and Distribution of Surface Bioluminescence in the Oceans During 1966 Through 1977 Richard V. Lynch D210.8:8210
Color Chemistry Interchemical Corporation Research Laboratories QD473 .C684 NO.1
Color as Light Interchemical Corporation Research Laboratories QD473 .C684 NO.2
Bioluminescence and Chemilluminescence Marlene A. DeLuca QP601 .M49 V.57
Bioluminescence in Action Peter J. Herring, ed. QH641 .B56
Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia, vol. 9 Birds III Dr. H.C. Bernhard Grzimek, ed. QL3 .G7813 v. 9
Planet Earth: Forest Jake Page & Editors of Time-Life Books QK938 .F6P25 1983
Wonders of the Sea Robert Burton, Carol Devaney, & Tony Long QL121 .B87 1983
Methods of Enzymology, Vol. LVII: Bioluminescence and Chemilluminescence Marlene A. DeLuca, ed. QP601 .M49 1978, v.57
Leaves Ghillean Tolmie Prance QK649 .P7 1985
Color, Order, and Harmony Paul Renner ND1280 .R453
Interaction of Color Josef Albers ND1489 .A4 1971
The Visual Nature of Color Patricia Sloane ND1488 .S55 1989
Color Psychology and Color Therapy Faber Birren QP483 .B575 1984
Color Your World Frank Don BF789 .C7D58 1983
Color and Human Response Faber Birren QP483 .B57 1978 c.2


BLACK: "Charcoal is one of the oldest known art materials. Today, some of the finest charcoal sticks are made of burnt willow branches."

BLUE: "The highest quality Ultramarine blue is made with powdered lapis lazuli from Afghanistan."

RED: "When the Spaniards discovered the New World, they brought back many rare and exotic items such as corn, potatoes, pumpkin and a marvelous dye that produces a rich shade of red made from cochineal. Cochineal is a small beetle-like insect that lives in the leaves of agave cactuses. Today, another insect called Carmine is dried and ground as a 'natural red food coloring.'"

BROWN: "Sienna and its (literally) toasted version, Burnt Sienna, were originally from the Italian town of the same name."

- from the book, Color: A Natural History of the Palette by Victoria Finlay

"Art is the imposing of a pattern on experience, and our aesthetic enjoyment is recognition of the pattern."

- Alfred North Whitehead, Dialogues (1954)


"What beauty. I saw clouds and their light shadows on the distant dear earth.... The water looked like darkish, slightly gleaming spots.... When I watched the horizon, I saw the abrupt, contrasting transition from the earth's light-colored surface to the absolutely black sky. I enjoyed the rich color spectrum of the earth. It is surrounded by a light blue aureole that gradually darkens, becoming turquiose, dark blue, violet, and finally coal black."

- Yuri Gagarin, Russian cosmonaut, first man in space

The Earth Seen From Apollo 17

Crab Nebula

Lunar Eclipse


"The atoms in a ripe tomato are busy shivering - or dancing or singing, the metaphors can be as joyful as the colors they describe - in such a way that when white light falls on them they absorb most of the blue and yellow light and they reject the red - meaning paradoxically that the 'red' tomato is actually one that contains every wavelength except red."

- from the book, Color: A Natural History of the Palette by Victoria Finlay

Amethyst wild rose


The world beneath the waves offers spectacular colors in the plant life and creatures not often seen in their natural setting by people.

The colorful world of bioluminescence - living organisms from both land and sea that are capable of "self-illumination":

The ghost fungus (Omphalotus nidiformis) is a gill mushroom found in southern Australia most notable for its bioluminescent properties.


A remarkable Web site dealing with bioluminescence in marine life is the Bioluminescence Web Page from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute. View colorful creatures seldom seen by any human.

  Red is any of a number of similar colors evoked by light consisting predominantly of the longest wavelengths of light discernible by the human eye, in the wavelength range of roughly 625-750 nm. Longer wavelengths than this are called infrared, or below red and cannot be seen by human eyes…"

Read more about the color 'red' in relation to art, culture, ethnography, literature, mythology, religion, and more.


"Color psychology is a field of psychology devoted to analyzing the effect of color on human behavior and feeling."


Learn more about color and its effect on the human psyche here. Included are such sub-topics as:

  • The Effects of Color on the Body
  • The Effects of Color on Vision
  • The Effects of Color on the Brain
  • The Effects of Color on Learning
  • The Effects of Color on Children and Babies
  • The Effects of Color on Interior Design
  • The Effects of Color on the Consumer
  • Color Therapy
  • Colors and Music
  • Color and Nature
  • Color and Shapes
  • Color and Cars
  • Color and Hospitals
  • Color Symbolism and Terminology
  • Global Color Symbolism

Web sites related to the world of color include:

Color Matters http://www.colormatters.com/ A very diverse site that looks at many aspects of color from symbolism to marketing
The Bioluminescence Web Page http://www.lifesci.ucsb.edu/~biolum/ Remarkable images of the bioluminescent world
Cross-browser Color Values http://www.w3schools.com/html/html_colors.asp Range of colors used in html
Color tutorial http://www.tomjewett.com/colors/paint.html Primary colors and hues, saturation, brightness discussed
Color Cube http://www.colorcube.com/index.htm An interactive color cube puzzle
Chronological Bibliography on Color Theory http://www.fadu.uba.ar/sitios/sicyt/color/bib.htm From 360 B.C. through 2003, an amazing list of resources

A supplemental brochure provides patrons with additional information.

Thank you for joining us on this "Colors of Our World" tour.

This site is presented by the Florida Institute of Technology Evans Library Instructional Programs Team.


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