Why are things the color they are?

In summary, different objects can have the same color even though they are made of different materials because our perception of color is not very precise. Color TV works because it uses a simple method to reproduce colors that is based on our limited color analysis. Transparency is a more complex phenomenon to understand.
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Kyran
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TL;DR Summary
I've heard certain wavelengths are absorbed and some are reflected by different things but what causes that?
I have not noticed anything in common between all things that are the same color. It must be something on the atomic level but if I look at the periodic table I see no pattern in how things behave and what their color is. So how can the sun be the same color as a highlighter and plastic the same color as jeans when they are made of very different things? I'm a high school student so chances are you'll have to explain this in your version of lamense terms.
 
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Forget the Physics of how matter interacts (emits / absorbs / reflects etc.) light of different wavelengths. This is a separate issue from colour vision.

The answer to your question is that your eyes are not spectrometers; many different combinations of wavelengths are perceived as the same 'colour' because our analysis is, in fact very crude. Colour TV works because of this. An object that the camera records will have a spectrum which the camera (mimicking your eye) analyses (filters) into three values which are related to the familiar RGB values. The electronics takes these values and adds them in a complicated way. A new set of (actual this time) R G B values are fed to the red, green and blue LEDs of the display. When the system is working correctly, your eye will 'see' the colour of the image as being (very nearly) the same as the 'colour' of the original object.
Colour TV systems would never get away with such a simple colour reproduction method if our eyes were, in fact, any smarter.

Near enough is good enough.
 
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  • #3
Kyran said:
Summary:: I've heard certain wavelengths are absorbed and some are reflected by different things but what causes that?

I have not noticed anything in common between all things that are the same color. It must be something on the atomic level but if I look at the periodic table I see no pattern in how things behave and what their color is. So how can the sun be the same color as a highlighter and plastic the same color as jeans when they are made of very different things? I'm a high school student so chances are you'll have to explain this in your version of lamense terms.
There should be quite a lot online about this. E.g.

https://www.zmescience.com/science/physics/what-gives-colour/
 
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1. Why do different objects have different colors?

Objects have different colors because of the way they interact with light. When light hits an object, it absorbs some wavelengths of light and reflects others. The wavelengths that are reflected determine the color that we see.

2. What causes an object to have a specific color?

An object's color is determined by its chemical makeup and the way it absorbs and reflects light. For example, an object that appears red absorbs all colors except red, which is reflected back to our eyes.

3. Why do some colors appear brighter than others?

The brightness of a color is determined by the amount of light it reflects. Lighter colors reflect more light, while darker colors absorb more light. This is why bright colors such as yellow and white appear brighter than darker colors like blue and black.

4. Can the color of an object change?

Yes, the color of an object can change depending on the lighting conditions. For example, a red apple may appear darker in dim lighting and brighter in bright lighting. Additionally, some objects can change color due to chemical reactions or fading over time.

5. Why do some colors evoke certain emotions or feelings?

Color psychology suggests that different colors can evoke different emotions and feelings. For example, red is often associated with passion and energy, while blue is associated with calmness and tranquility. These associations can vary depending on cultural and personal experiences.

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