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A Red That's Redder Than Red

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by , 03-29-2012 at 10:45 PM (2520 Views)
Before I begin this quicky entry (which is mostly borrowed off my current FB status message), let's read an excerpt from "The Gods of Mars", a novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs, part of his John Carter series of novels (yes, in case you only knew about the name John Carter from the recent movie, the John Carter character has been around for ages--well, specifically since 1912, which in fact tells us that this fictitious character is already 100 years old), the adventures of John Carter in Barsoom (Mars).



"The stone worn by the thern who confronted us was of about the same size as that which I had seen before; an inch in diameter I should say. It scintillated nine different and distinct rays; the seven primary colors of our earthly prism and the two rays which are unknown upon Earth, but whose wonderous beauty is indescribable."


Before we continue, I would like to add that I think what Burroughs meant by the term "seven primary colors" are in fact, the seven colors of the rainbow, which we were taught as kids with the funny-sounding yet handy acronym of "ROYGBIV", which stands for Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, and Violet.

Now, the eminent astronomer Carl Sagan mentions to us, in his book BROCA'S BRAIN, that when he read the John Carter novels of Edgar Rice Burroughs as a kid, try as hard as he might, he couldn't picture these two additional primary colors, and since he believed the full electromagnetic spectrum to be "permanent" and unchanging, that this is another "bending of known physics" that Burroughs did, to satisfy his description of something unearthly, something truly fantastic and beyond the scope of whatever ordinary things we experience here on earth--artistic license or allowance, if you will--when he wrote the novels.



But I can't help but think, especially noting the manner by which Sagan mentioned this fact in the book, that he believed that Burroughs wasn't "trained enough" in the sciences to actually know better. Or was Sagan judging Burroughs too early?

Well, I think in a way, Edgar Rice Burroughs musings wasn't that far from the truth, for just very recently, a team of physicists from the University of California at Santa Barbara just announced that they have been able to (as a form of "side effect") create 11 new colors of the rainbow using lasers and ion cascades, a report from the Science Daily says, a link to which is here:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases...0328142846.htm

Now, try it yourself--can you actually picture 11 new hues of the rainbow? While they may not have an actual photo yet of these new colors, primary or not, I think that Burroughs may have had more insight into the matter than previously thought--or was it just a wild guess? You decide.

Updated 03-29-2012 at 10:58 PM by rodsky

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  1. sevmik's Avatar
    That happens a lot, especially in the sciences. We have this hardcore thinkers and the purists saying that something is conclusive and final only to be disproven as technology progresses. Yet we have these individuals who sees the bigger picture and makes guesses based on this, no matter how theoritical or fantastic. They almost always end up being right, for the logical and conscious part of our brain will always be miles behind the subconscious one.

    I've also read that article when you posted it on FB, but I was more interested in its potential in fibre optics and computing. Imagine 11 more pathways for digital data? That's more than double the current capacity!
  2. rodsky's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by sevmik
    but I was more interested in its potential in fibre optics and computing. Imagine 11 more pathways for digital data? That's more than double the current capacity!
    Yes, there's not much practical things you can do with 11 new colors (maybe in the world of fashion perhaps?), but 11 more pathways for digital data, now that is meaty.

    Now that you're here, I realized I should have titled the entry as...

    "A Blue That's Bluer than Blue Pax" *chuckles*

    -RODION
  3. sevmik's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by rodsky
    Now that you're here, I realized I should have titled the entry as...

    "A Blue That's Bluer than Blue Pax" *chuckles*

    -RODION
    That would really have your readers scratching their heads... or go glucose bingeing thinking that their wits must be asleep.

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