Color Vision: A New Understanding

John A. Medeiros


Summary, Final Note

I have covered a wide range and large number of issues related to human color vision. I hope that in the process I have shed some light on the topic, Color Vision: A New Understanding. While I have made what I believe is a very strong case for the inadequacy (at least) of the three-cone model of color vision as based on "red", "green" and "blue" photopigments uniquely sequestered within each cone type, there is still, of course, a very important role for photopigments in any model of color vision. The photopigments provide the first step in the transduction of light into a visual sensation. However, I am suggesting that the role for photopigments is ancillary to the basic spectral dispersion mechanism of waveguide mode cutoff. Photopigments do the work of absorbing and converting the light into an electrical signal and a differential distribution of photopigments with different absorption curves could well enhance and improve the operation of the basic mechanism proposed here.

By way of a summary, some of what has been covered in this document includes:

The bottom line to all this is that the eye is indeed a marvelous instrument of seeing, perhaps even more cleverly constructed than had been previously imagined. There is reason, after all, that we can each detect seven million different colors or so and do it over a dynamic range of light intensity that spans some ten orders of magnitude, a feat no invention of technology has yet achieved. Each human eye is composed of an array of millions of sublimely constructed spectroscopic detectors that can each resolve the world of colors in a way no mere gross partitioning into three buckets of color could ever hope to accomplish.

Given the scope of what I have covered here, I can hardly do justice to the vast body of scientific research, studies, publications, and data that has been generated about human color vision over the last two hundred years. There is clearly very much more to do, but perhaps the framework of the cone spectrometer model described both here and in the book, Cone Shape & Color Vision, can yet help with the process of clarifying the understanding of color vision.





I apologize in advance to any whose favorite project or effect or issue I did not address (although, perhaps I should be apologizing to those whose issues I did address!). The subject is simply much too vast to cover everything in one document or even one book. I do really feel that what is discussed here, as comprehensive as I have tried to make it, is only a beginning. My greatest joy after so many years of working on this issue would be to see a revitalization of the field of color vision with a new understanding that I may have had a small part in generating.

Anyway, thanks to Nancy for discussions and in helping to proof all this and to David for some excellent ideas for making this a better document. Any omissions, errors, or gaffs, unintended as they may be, are entirely my own responsibility.

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If you should actually want to know a little more about me and why I think I'm qualified to talk about color vision, go here: about the author.

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