Separating starlight into its chromatic spectrum with a prism (www.amazing-space.stsci.edu)
As light enters our eyes it reacts with the various rod and cone cells. In low light levels, light is detected by rod cells. In contrast in brighter light, light is detected by cone cells which are also responsible for color vision. White light is composed of the colors of the visible spectrum; a prism can separate light into these specific colors. Various cone cells detect various and specific wavelengths of light and thus color. More specifically in humans, the S-cone cells, M-cone cells and L-cone cells are most sensitive to the short- (400 – 500 nm), medium- (450-630 nm) and long-wavelengths (500-700 nm) of visible light, respectively.
Rod and cone cells in the human eye (www.rpfightingblindness.org.uk)
This three cone cell system in humans is called trichromacy, which give us the ability to see approximately 1 million various types and shades of color. Some animals, such as many terrestrial, non-primate mammals (i.e. dogs), have a two cone cell system called dichromacy and can see about 10,000 types / shades of color. In contrast, many reptiles, amphibians, birds and insects are tetrachromatic (4 types of cone cells) and can see approximately 100 million colors, while some insects (butterflies) and some birds (pigeons) are pentachromatic (5 types of cone cells) and can see approximately 10 billion colors! Thus, there are some other animals that can see more colors – a lot more colors – than we humans.
In addition to having the ability to see more of the existing wavelength range of visible light (between 400 and 700 nanometers), some animals can see beyond this range. For example, bees are trichromatic like us humans; however, while our cone cell color combinations are based on red, blue and green, a bee’s vision is based on green, blue and ultraviolet (UV). Thus, while bees cannot see red and have hard time distinguishing it from green, they can see UV while we cannot. Essentially, bees see a “color” (UV) humans do not and humans see a color (red) that bee do not. Shown below are what flowers look like in natural and UV light. The patterns on flowers revealed under the UV light help to guide bees to the nectar and pollen (see below). However, UV light is not just a means of pointing to food. If bees are deprived of UV light they lose interest in foraging and remain in the hive until forced out by severe food shortages (www.westmtnapiary.com). Thus, the absence of UV light can directly affect their behavior as well.
The visible spectrum for humans and bees (www.westmtnapiary.com)
Primrose flower in natural light (left) and UV-light (right)
Dandelion flower in natural light (left) and UV-light (right)
So, some animals can see more colors than us and some can see fewer. Additionally, some animals can see beyond our range of “visible” range of color while we can see beyond their range. All of this does support the idea that there can easily be countless colors that are not visible to us. Again, visible light is a tiny sliver of the entire EM spectrum – maybe other forms of life can “see” other portion of this spectrum. To them, our visible colors may be completely unknown visually, while they may be able to see gamma waves or radio waves.
In HPL’s tale “From Beyond” the resonator generates a field of energy that stimulates the pineal gland, which results in opening human perception to an extended and more holistic view of reality that our limited five senses can then take in; the result is seeing things we as humans cannot normally see. However, in the case of “The Colour Out of Space” it is not known if the Colour is generating any unusual energy or radiation outside of the EM spectrum (more on that later). Based on what we know, the Colour is not an artificial machine or device like the resonator, generating a field that is impacting human vision or our brain to allow us to see its unknown color. The indescribable color appears to be an inherent property of both the meteorite (when examined with a spectroscope) and the unknown Colour that was inside. While humans can see the strange color, we do not know if other animals can; we know the Colour affects all Earth life (humans, animals and plants; most likely microorganisms as well) but we do not know if humans are the only species that can see the unknown color.
Lovecraft’s The Colour Out of Space by Asahisuperdry (www.deviantart.com)
Given what we do know about the meteorite and Colour, these visitors from “outside” are producing a specific type of EM wavelength that humans are not familiar with seeing. Thus, in order to tease this apart, I have listed below a set of proposed hypotheses that may account for the unknown color. Obviously, some empirical research and additional testing of the material would be required to support any of these hypotheses.
- The EM wavelengths being generated by the Colour are not within the slice of visible light within the EM spectrum. Maybe the Colour is generating EM wavelengths that are longer than infrared or shorter than UV. For some unknown reason these wavelengths are being received by our rod or cone cells in a wholly unique manner and are brains are attempting to translate this into a color. The result is our brain providing a feeble and confusing interpretation of this unique electro-neurological message travelling from the eyes to the brain. In this case, the EM wavelengths may be nothing out of the ordinary relative to the entire EM spectrum. It’s just this for some reason the conveyance of this energy to our eyes is unique, somehow altering the EM wavelength and “forcing” it be within the range of our visible perception. It sort of like shining a UV light on a flower and seeing those otherwise invisible patterns.
- The EM wavelengths being generated by the Colour are within the slice of visible light of the EM spectrum. As we have seen, many animals have the ability to see a lot more colors due to the number of cone cells they have. It may be possible that the Colour is generating a very specific set of EM wavelengths, possibly wavelengths in between those we normally see that stimulate our cone cells (or other cells within the eye). It may be possible that certain cells (cone cells or otherwise) within the human eye are basically inactive and are only stimulated when a very specific set of wavelength reach them in a very specific manner. This may even be a genetic response, possibly triggering normally inactive proto-oncogenes. However, instead of the unique set of wavelengths switching the proto-oncogene to being an oncogene (which is frequently associated with cancerous growth), it switches specific operations in the eye that generates proteins that modify the cone cells to “see” the unknown colour. In this case, merely looking at the color triggers an individual’s ability to see it. This hypothesis may also explain the deformities and mutations experienced by the Gardner family and the surrounding ecosystem (again more on this later).
- The Colour is generating wavelengths of energy that are found outside of our conventional EM spectrum. It is known through detailed cosmological observations that the composition of the universe is approximately 68% dark energy, 27% dark matter and 5% of normal matter (all of the matter that we are familiar with). Other than that, very little is actually known about dark energy and dark matter. There are a number of hypotheses on what dark energy and dark matter are but that is for another discussion. However, it may be possible that the Colour is a manifestation of dark energy, normally not detected by either human senses or our current technology.
There may be other hypotheses that may include antimatter, other dimensions or parallel universes in their explanations; however, the three listed above took the EM spectrum into consideration with their development.
Next time we will discuss the long-term effects of “The Colour Out of Space” on the Gardner farm and family. Thank you – Fred.