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Why do we see color?
- Kristin Farley (age 13)
tuffree middle, California
I'm not sure if you meant to ask about why we see color or really meant to ask how we see color- what's the mechanism?
The mechanism involves three different types of cells in the eye,
sensitive to different colors of light. Your brain registers how much
each of those types of cells is firng.
The reason for the body to have such a fancy mechanism seems fairly
clear. Seeing in color makes it much easier to distinguish different
types of plants, to spot hidden prey and hidden predators, etc. Any of
our ancestors who had a little bit of those abilities would have a
better chance to survive than ones who didn't. The abilities themselves
are strongly guided by genetic heredity. So pretty soon the survivng
ancestors could distinguish colors much better than earlier ancestors.
Those of us around now generally have good color vision, although there
are some color-blind or partially color-blind people.
(republished on 07/18/06)
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