12. 10. 2020

English version | To be continued: 111 shades of blue

by José Machado


By this time, you are likely to think you already know everything there is to know about blue. But do you really know? For example, have you ever been told that if you use a blue ink pen, you have a better chance of memorizing what you wrote? And that there is an extrasolar planet, named HD189733B, which is also blue? Did not know? It’s normal, neither did we. However, we revolved the Internet to bring you all the curiosities (the publishable ones) about this tone. Just click and read.

· Let's start with the eyes, the ones you use now to read this text. Although rare, blue eyes are unanimously considered to be beautiful and attractive. However, there is no blue pigmentation in the eyes - its color is defined by the melanin in the iris, that is, the lower the concentration of melanin in the iris, the lighter the color of the eye will be, and the greater the probability of it have a light color, like blue.

· In addition to its beauty, part of the attraction for blue eyes is due to their rarity. Only 8% to 10% of the world population has them. Still, there are places where they are practically the norm, cases like Finland or Estonia, where 75% of people have them. The reverse case happens, for example, in the United States, where in the 20s of the last century 50% of Americans had blue eyes - a number that declines to one in six Americans today. Of the six continents, the European is, by a large margin, the one with the highest incidence of inhabitants with blue eyes.

· In ancient civilizations, such as Greece and Rome, women with blue eyes were considered promiscuous.

· The former Roman emperor Julius Caesar said that Celtic barbarians painted their faces blue to instill fear in their opponents. He also believed that when they got older they dyed their hair blue to "hide" their age.

· The first time that the blue color was produced synthetically was in the Ancient Egypt, around 2,200 B.C. The pigment used was made from the “gem” of the Pencil Lazuli stone or the mineral Azurite. Perhaps this is why today there is still a shade of blue called Egyptian Blue, also known as cuprorivaite. In Ancient Egypt, blue was associated with heaven and divinity. According to legend, the god Ámon managed to "paint" his skin blue, so that he could fly invisibly through the sky. On the other hand, blue was believed to protect the people from all evil.

· The blue amulets used by the Egyptians to protect them from bad luck have, over time, been transported to other cultures. In Greece, the famous “Mati”, or Greek Evil Eye, is seen all over the country, and used in different ways, by all Greeks.

· For a long time, there was no concrete word to describe the color blue. In the famous book Odyssey, Homer refers to the sea as being "red-wine."

· In Europe, in the early Middle Ages, blue was only used by the lower classes. The elites ignored the color, using it only for decoration. Everything changed when the French abbot Abbe Suger, responsible for the renovation of the Saint-Denis Basilica, decided to cover the stained-glass windows with cobalt. When sunlight came in through the stained glass, it illuminated the building with a bluish color and, from then on, the color became known as “Bleu de Saint-Denis.” In the following years, other stained-glass windows were installed in other churches, such as Sainte-Chapelle, in Paris. Another important factor in the paradigm shift in relation to blue is the fact that the Virgin Mary, until then portrayed in dark robes, started to be painted in blue clothes. The tone began to be associated with holiness, humility and virtue.

· Another driver of change was Louis IX, better known as Saint Louis, for being the first monarch to wear (repeatedly and constantly) blue. The elites and the nobility quickly followed the trend.

· Art followed a similar path. After being imported into Europe via Afghanistan, blue began to be increasingly coveted by all artists, mainly painters. The Renaissance is the golden age of using this color, but to find out more about the affair between art and blue, read the article “The Blue Period.”

· Blue is one of the three primary colors of pigments, as well as in traditional color theory, and in the RGB color model. It lies between violet and green in the visible light spectrum. The eye "perceives" the blue when observing the light with a dominant wavelength between approximately 450 and 495 nanometers.

· There are things that appear to be blue but are not really blue. The clear daytime sky and the deep sea look blue due to an optical effect known as Rayleigh scattering.

· Researches carried out in several countries show that blue is the color most commonly associated with harmony, fidelity, courage, confidence, distance, infinity, imagination, calm and, sometimes, sadness. These opinion polls show that blue is the most popular color, chosen by almost half of the men and women surveyed.

· Popular all over the world, blue is the third most used color in the largest symbol of each country - the national flag - being present in 53% of the flags, behind only red and white. The same goes for passports, where blue is the second most used color. If we want to extend this logic to a more business context, it is not by chance that most of the logos of large companies are blue - Facebook, Skype, Twitter, the list is almost infinite.

· In nature, blue is considered one of the rarest colors. Less than one in ten plants are blue. The same goes for gastronomy, where it is practically nonexistent.

· The 2014 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano and Shuji Nakamura for discovering the LED light (which is blue).

· Over the years, various surveys related to colors have been carried out in various demographics and for various purposes. In the overwhelming majority of these inquiries, to the question “what is your favorite color?”, more than 50% of respondents answered “blue”, with the percentage of men who gave this answer being always higher than that of women.

· Blue is also one of the most used colors in clothing - it is the best-selling shade if we think, for example, of blazers. It is also the color that prevails in uniforms, from the police to medical personnel, from sailors to postmen, from aircraft crews to students.

· The best-selling color of toothbrushes is blue.

· YInMn Blue, also known as Oregon Blue, is an inorganic blue pigment that was accidentally discovered by Professor Munirpallam Appadorai “Mas” Subramanian and his then student Andrew E. Smith at Oregon State University in 2009. It is the latest shade of blue to add to Pantone's long list.

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