johnperp
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How does colour emerge from atomic structure? I assume it is not as simple as atoms being different colours and then combining atoms to form molecules makes their colours combine like paints. It must be an emergent property that is not present in the atoms themselves, but how exactly?

Any explanation that doesn't use technical physics knowledge would be appreciated!
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medhelp
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isn't is just that
certain substances just absorb certain "wavelengths" of light and reflect others, which gives them a distinct colour
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johnperp
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(Original post by medhelp)
isn't is just that
certain substances just absorb certain "wavelengths" of light and reflect others, which gives them a distinct colour
I don't know any physics unfortunately. Do you mind writing that out in layman terms?
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theravadaz
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(Original post by johnperp)
How does colour emerge from atomic structure? I assume it is not as simple as atoms being different colours and then combining atoms to form molecules makes their colours combine like paints. It must be an emergent property that is not present in the atoms themselves, but how exactly?

Any explanation that doesn't use technical physics knowledge would be appreciated!
imo this is more of a philosophy question than a physics one, but it can still get very complex. I recommend reading the start of Bertrand Russell's 'Problems of Philosophy' or searching up on the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy 'theories of perception'. Russell, who was an indirect realist, argued that colour is not a mind-independent property that exists inherently within an object, but instead a mind-dependent 'sense datum' that only exists when perceived. Other philosophers such as J.L. Austin (a direct realist), will argue that the colour of an object does not exist inherently within that object, but instead exists as a relational property of that object. So, my perception of colour is constituted by the causal physical processes that take place between an object, my eye and my brain. There are countless other explanations of what philosophers call "secondary qualities" (e.g. smell, colour, sound etc.) - I recommend you check them out

The truth is, physics doesn't know the answer!
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medhelp
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(Original post by johnperp)
I don't know any physics unfortunately. Do you mind writing that out in layman terms?
I only know GCSE lol so i just know that statement but i am a biologist so think of it like this

we see things because light bounces off the object(s) and into our eye.

and you know that light is a wave right?

so when we see colour
its because certain objects absorb different wavelengths of light, and the wavelength of light that it absorbs corresponds to the colour that object is perceive at.

say a blue object, it absorbs all the wavelengths of light corresponding to other colours , and it reflects the wavelength of light that corresponds to the colour blue so that's how we see that object,

colour of an object is basically just the wavelength of the light wave it reflects.

so red objects reflect light waves of 780-620nm
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I don't really know what an "emergent phenomena" is lol and what I do know about colour leads to me to question: how do we know we all see the same "colour" as the same colour, like what if someones blue is someones yellow?
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