Thursday, October 11, 2007

Colors: The human eye is most sensitive to GREEN


Among the eyes of Nature, the human eye is designed to distinguish colors. Cats eyes, for example are much better at detecting movement, the condor can see "death", and the dog can "read" our faces better than we can. But for colors, we seem to have the leading specimen eye. And among the colors, which ones do we seem most keen to observe?

More than any other color, we see green. Since color is a major quality factor to human beings, the fact that we are more sensitive to green than to other colors, must be significant. And what IS it about GREEN?

In terms of dialectic, it is not associated with an "opposite" -- such as "black and white", or "blue and red". It is not a primary color, but is the mix of blue and yellow. So why does our eye especially read for green?


Is WHAT is green the important thing? -- the grass, the garden, the tree -- or is the prejudice merely the coincidence of the particular pigment or light wave to the shape of our eye? In all the perlustrations of color before us, in the parade of shade and light, is there an explanation for our green proclivity?


Because the sensitivity is indifferent to whether the green is pigmentation or wave length, solid or light, it is probable that our brain, not the naked physics of the peep-hole, the optic orb, is cue-ing the green. One test of this would be further experiments with creatures with eyes which are similar to human eyes -- such as squid, or even other primates. Do they have the same sensitivity, and can we test this differentiation? Squid live in an environment in which there is almost no ambient "green" light and few enough chorophylic plants, compared with the non-aquatic species.


Assuming the brain is the organ which holds the sensitivity and is prejudiced in favor of the color green, is there anything about green things which explains the predisposition?

PLANTS. We do seem to take comfort in Gardens. It is almost an embarrassment how we putter in them -- and this is not simply explained as an association with our food sources. We rarely eat the foliage and flowers which populate our Gardens -- hanging and otherwise.

GRASS. The word for the color Green stems etymologically from "growing grass" -- compare CGerm/Goth "gronjaz". It is the color of growing, the fresh, young, unripe, immature and living forms. It seems curious that no fruit gets green with age, and meats which green do so because of new growth of bacteria and mold upon them. The primordial grassland, or open veldt, may at least partially be reflected in the origin of the word and its cognates -- greenery, greening, greensward, greenhorn (new ox).

EMERALD JEWEL. Emeralds are green, and are long and fondly regarded as the Queen of all precious gemstones. Emeralds adorned the Pharaohs of Egypt over 3,000 years ago, and Inka craftsmen worked it into their most prized jewelry. Of course, our attraction to a pretty rock would obtain no matter what its hue. As Beryllium with trace chromium, vanadium, and occasionally iron, Emeralds are also extremely hard -- making them an excellent jewel impervious to wear. Depending on Color, Clarity, Cut and Carat weight, they are more valuable by weight than diamonds, or any other stone. With respect to clarity, the natural inclusions in emeralds are often called ‘gardens’. These gardens -- the inclusions -- make the stone green, of course, since beryl is colorless. We draw from these green shades of jewels and gardens the descriptions of "enchanting" or "mysterious".


The human eye detects an extraordinary range of hues and shades -- 100's of thousands. Eye detection of green chromaticity appears to be scaled on par with other colors. This seems odd in light of the Color Chart, your rainbow of primary and secondary colors, and the Green Sensitivity.

Consider the various virescent Chlorochrous hues:

Bright or vivid green (emerald, smaragdine, day-glo, citrine);

Light green (apple);

Pale green (celadon, eau-de-nil);

Bluish green (teal, glaucous, some cerulean or sea-green);

Yellow-green (chartreuse, avocado, Kelly, leek, hunter, Nile, absinthe, pistachio,
verdegris, pea, grass, leaf, malachite, moss);

Gold-green (chrysochlorous);

Chrome-green (zinnober, viridian);

Gray-green (lovat, sage);

Blackish-green (olive, corbeau [raven-sheen], avocado, bottle, marine,
peacock, forest).

Dull green (olive, olive drab, )


  1. GRASS. "A single gentle rain makes the grass many shades greener....We should be blessed if we lived in the present always, and [received] every accident that befell us, like the grass which confesses the influence of the slightest dew that falls on it." Henry David Thoreau

  2. When you say that green in not a primary color, you are thinking of pigments - like paints or dyes. Since you are talking about the eye, you must concentrate on light, since the eye is our light receptor. Green is most definitely a primary color of light. In fact, we have three types of cones - red, blue, and green. These 3 types of cones firing at different times allow us to see all the subtle shades of color.

    By the way, if you blend red, blue, and green light together you get white light!

    1. Thank you for the clarification. I guess I did not build enough light boxes. Glad to hear about the morphology, the anatomy, with the three types of eye-cones.

  3. This is ridiculous, we are most sensitive to green because this is the most abundant source of electromagnetic radiation from the Sun (it's peak output is centered about green). Evolution has rewarded animals that were able to see the "most", thus we are most sensitive to green, then it's no coincidence that what we call red and blue are right next to green...the visible spectrum is merely the small chunk of the electromagnetic spectrum where the peak output for the Sun is located.

    1. Thank you for the comment. Green at the center of the output of the sun. The rewarded animal.

  4. please can anyone give the references which will confirm that a green color is more sensitive to human eye.

    balhayat at yahoo dot com

  5. yes i to would like a reference that confirms that green is a colour that the eye is more sensitive to!