Question: Why is the colour green, green?

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  1. That question has lots of layers of meaning.
    Firstly, light appears “green” to us because it activates certain “cone” receptors in the back of our eyes (there are three kinds, one for red, one for green and one for blue; there are also “rods” which respond to how bright light is, but do not care about the colour).
    Technically, light is waves – moving vibrating across the direction it is moving. Heat is vibrating quite slowly, red light a little faster, green faster still, and blue even faster again (the we get into ultra-violet and x-rays).
    Green is also the colour our eyes are most sensitive to.
    There is no way for us to tell whether one person’s experience of “green” is the same as another’s, so green is just a label we give to light that stimulates those parts of our eyes.
    Mia will tell you that dogs have different receptors (only two kinds) and see colours much differently to us.


  2. Peter’s right – dogs see in shades of yellow, grey and blue!

    The word ‘green’ comes from the Middle English and Old English word grene, which, like the German word grĂ¼n, has the same root as the words grass and grow.


  3. I find what @peter says very interesting, that we don’t know if the colours we see are the same as anyone elses.

    But one thing is for sure, colour (however we see it) is all about how light behaves with chemicals. Light is full of different energies and different energies can sometimes be seen by our eyes as different colours. As @peter said. blue is a higher energy colour that red. Sometimes, chemicals absorb all energies of one colour but sends back all the the light of a different colour. Whatever colour is sent back is what falls on our eyes. So we will experience that energy colour as whatever colour you want to call it.