What colors will we see on other planets and how will our brains react to them

By SSPDaily editionJan 17, 2024 10:01 AMLife
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What colors will we see on other planets
What colors will we see on other planets. Source: news.obozrevatel.com

The human brain is surprisingly fast at adapting to different lighting conditions and adjusting colors according to the program laid down by nature. This is well illustrated by the eyes of the elderly, whose lenses become more yellow with age. However, people see the same colors as when they were younger because the brain corrects for the difference.

The Live Science website writes: "But how will your brain perceive colors in a completely new environment that doesn't exist on Earth?" Here's what scientists think about it.

What colors prevail on other planets?

"Whatever the average color is, it will end up looking gray," Michael Webster, a cognitive vision specialist at the University of Nevada, Reno, told Live Science.

Thus, according to Webster's research, the mechanism that corrects the eye lenses that have yellowed with age is likely to work when astronauts travel to another planet. Depending on which colors prevail in the new environment, the space explorer's brain will adjust to a more neutral perception.

"I predict that when humans arrive on Mars, the Red Planet will not appear red to them over time," says Webster. "Instead, the rusty Martian terrain will appear brown or gray. And the Martian sky will become bluer. Not the same as the Earth's, but not as orange as it seems to us now."

However, this does not mean that over time the entire alien sky will appear blue to us. It depends on the predominant color of the light passing through the atmosphere in relation to the predominant colors of the landscape. For example, the opposite of orange on the color wheel is blue, so cold tones are likely to become more prominent as the observer's brain moves toward neutrality. But if you were on an exoplanet with purple vegetation and golden skies, for example, your brain might adjust differently.

Your mental color filter is not limited to hue, it also adjusts for intensity. On a planet with a limited natural color palette, your brain will adjust to very subtle changes in hue - you will eventually perceive fuzzy colors as brighter, and vice versa.

"If you were living in a super-colorful environment, you would actually turn down this 'regulator,'" Webster says. And when you return to Earth, the "settings" of color perception will return to the factory settings.

Experiments underwater

But what if, instead of waiting for astronauts' eyes and brains to adapt to a new planet, we invented a device that automatically filters the environment for them? An engineer and oceanographer at the University of Haifa (Israel), Derya Akkaynak and her lab are working on a similar problem.

Akkainak is one of the developers of a computer algorithm called Sea-thru, which corrects the color of images and videos shot underwater to make them look like they were taken on land. The first stage corrects the natural blue filter of water.

Even on another planet, clean bodies of water will appear blue. This is because water partially filters out other colors of visible light. "Essentially, it changes white light, turning it into blue," says Akkajnak.

But most bodies of water are not perfectly clear. They are filled with salt particles, green phytoplankton, sediments, and other elements that reflect light particles or photons. Therefore, objects appear differently depending on the depth and type of water through which they are seen. The Akkainek model takes these factors into account to bring images to an earthly perspective.

The deep sea is like a small space

Hypothetically, if you know the composition of the atmosphere and oceans of an alien planet, you can predict how light will interact with it. Then, based on this information, an algorithmic filter could be created that "corrects" the colors of the environment, which could be installed, say, in a spacesuit's viewfinder.

However, until people visit another planet, it is impossible to say for sure how the process of adapting to an alien color palette will go. But perhaps the depths of the sea can mimic this situation. Ackaynak once went underwater at a depth of more than 100 feet (30 m), which is deep enough to filter out all red light.

"Everything looked yellow instead of blue, maybe because I was trying to compensate for the lack of red," she told Live Science. "But overall, it looked crazy."

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