It’s Christmas! And there are colours everywhere. Red, yellow, blue, green. Beautifully wrapped gifts, wonderful decorations in malls and stores but how do we see it all… in colour?

Firstly, Newton discovered that we see a coloured object because it absorbs all the other colours and reflects only the one we see. So a red Santa’s hat absorbs blue, yellow, green and all the other colours and reflects red.

The Cones

When the reflected red light enters the eye, we have some tiny cells that respond to light, they are called cones and there are up to 7,000,000 of them in each eye! (Yes, you read that number correct, 7 million). That’s 14 million cones in total and better yet they respond by varying degrees to particular colours of light.

In our case with the red Santa hat, the cone cells that respond to red light will be activated and will pass a message to the brain to say, hey that’s a red hat!

And so we take it all in and admire the many colours of this wonderful time of year. Blue and yellow lights, green trees, black cakes and red sorrel. These are the colours of the season. Enjoy it and say cheers to the cones this Christmas!