The woman who can see 100 times more colors than you can


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Fascinating. Truly fascinating!


ISTR hearing that they discovered in WWII that there were a few people who could see in the near infrared…Which was very handy when using infrared signal lanterns from ship to ship when they didn’t want to use the radio or lights for security reasons…


Previously on BB:slight_smile:


And yet, some of my favorite art is three colors on brown newsprint.


Ask Siri what her favorite color is.


regarding that last bit about her students learning to see new colors from her training. I’m not a tetrachromat but I’ve got a ton of art training and from an early age. it really is a thing. like how people for whom math comes naturally, they get frustrated with those of us who can’t do arithmetic in our head: to them, it’s just there. With art training, you see things most people don’t. not only colors, but lighting, composition, and perspective stuff, too. it can be learned through other ways and some folks are undoubtedly naturally gifted, but training really does matter.

I wonder how it is for a person who is both tetrachromat and synesthete? there must have been some at some point. they’d be like a blind person in reverse, totally unable to comprehend our “normal” reality, but from the other end of the spectrum, literally.


If she could draft she’d be dangerous!

Note: I may have done a bit too much reading the last couple of weeks.



No, not 100 times. Color vision is more comparable to dimensions. Each type of color receptor = one dimension. Most of us have 3. She has 4.


Similarly, they (still) use people who are fully color-blind to analyze reconnaissance photos for camouflaged objects. The color patterns don’t fool them and the material stands out against the un-camouflaged surroundings.

(ETA: interestingly, a color-blind person assessing a color photo consistently does better than a color-sighted person assessing a B/W (or color) copy of the same photo. The assumption is that the color-blind person’s entire visual cortex is dedicated to shades of grey and so is better able to distinguish subtleties, but to the best of my knowledge nobody has actually conducted any experiments to prove that definitively.)


You only see three colors and she only sees four?

I think the number comes from color differentiation (she can distinctly differentiate between 100 million colors while the average human can differentiate between about 1 million)


I’m still skeptical. How do you count “how many” colors you can see? Is it the same as the number of colors you can name? Some cultures can only name 2-3 colors, while English has hundreds of names. Is there any other way to measure how many colors somebody sees? When she says the grayest rock is a riot of colors, how do we know she’s not just bullshitting?


I have to wonder if TV and digitally printed images look dull to her? I can only assume they would be missing lots of colors (in her eye).


That’s actually super-easy to test, just a bunch of blind samples between pigments tested with higher quality cameras than we can benefit from. Or if you’re getting fancy variations on color blindness tests, we’ve been doing 'em for ages! That’s the same way we come up with how many colors regular humans can differentiate.

She’s also got a pretty good amount of links on her page, so apparently this gets asked a lot.


meh. i’m as blind as a bat – almost EVERYONE can see better than me.


Time to bring this up again.

I did surprisingly well, considering I have no training.


i regularly score a perfect zero on that test.


3 cubed is 27. Four to the power of four is 256.


But can she see squant (the 4th primary color)?


Or octarine, the eighth colour?