Close your eyes and try to imagine a brand-new colour that's never been seen before. Can you do it?
Click start to play today’s Word Search, where you can find special colour hues, like “ecru” and “thistle”.
It’s practically impossible for humans to escape our age-old colour spectrum, and come up with a new colour. According to a June 2019 report in US-based science and technology website Gizmodo, the definition of colour relies on human perception and is limited to the capabilities of our visual system. People are able to see wavelengths from 390 to 700 nanometres – what is considered to be the ‘visible spectrum’. We also have three cone photoreceptors that detect light in the colours red, green and blue. A combination of these colours allows us to see all the colours in the visible spectrum.
But while we cannot invent a new colour, it might be possible to see colours that lie beyond our range of sight.
Wavelengths of light exist outside the visible spectrum, like ultraviolet (UV) light and infrared. Scientists already know of several species that can see UV light, such as butterflies and sockeye salmon.
Now, the Johnston Lab at Johns Hopkins University in the US is working on technology that could give humans this ability, as well. Scientists are differentiating human stem cells into mini retinas, called ‘organoids’, which could then be transplanted into people. The organoids would reprogram our cone cells to sense UV light and then transplant the cells themselves.
According to Johnston Lab’s website, the goal of this particular research is to restore vision to those who have lost the use of their cone cells, which are responsible for not just sensing colour, but for allowing us to see well during the day, too. Even as gene transfer and organoid technology will help restore vision, it can create new ways to enhance the human experience, with UV vision.