"What is Color?"

Manufacturer and builder 3, 1889

To the Editor of the Manufacturer and Builder:

Replying to the above inquiry, and to your correspondent, "Seeker after Knowledge," in your February issue, permit me to call his attention to the fact that if be will carefully read the article to which he refers ("The Universal law of Nature and Source of Phenomena"), he will find his two or three questions fully answered. In said article, in connection with description of the elementary operations and properties of matter, I made the following statement: "In fact there is no such thing as color." The same idea could he conveyed by saying: "In fact, the elements have no such properly as color." So, avoiding your correspondent's transferring this line to where it did not belong, and drawing incorrect inferences, will he kindly give reasons for quoting and attributing to my theory the exact points which I have given as erroneous, and which have been usually held by the artists to whom he refers? If he will consult any text book on colors, he will find their reasons for believing that white and black are not colors, and under my hypothesis, if we admit the phenomena on our eyes w which we call red, yellow and blue to be colors, then for the same reasons we must admit black and white to be colors.

Has "Seeker After Knowledge" never heard of color blindness? and of "the deuce being played" by persons who could not see colors the same always under all circumstances? Does coal thrown on the fire always appear black? and the summer foliage always green? or their colors varied by certain changes of temperature. What present theory accounts satisfactorily for the production of all colors from the same matter such as a piece of steel at varying temperatures? Would it not seem ridiculous to suppose that varying temperatures produce different coloring matter from a single element, or the same substance (which may be located at a great distance front the observer), and that this coloring matter by some magic is caused to more through said space in certain wave lines to the eye of the observer, and then back again, reassembling ready for the next observer to look at it. In what other sense can it be said that color moves in wave lines? Is not this an evident error due, to the transposition of cause and effect? that in place of color moving and producing certain wave lines, it is just the reverse — that certain distinct (wave lines or) aneles of motion produce on our eyes the phenomena of their respective colors, the mine the varied vibrations of the instrument produce the different steps in music noted by the ears; and what is true of the sense of sight and hearing, is also true of the other senses — touch, taste and smell — all depending on certain angles of motion and comhiaations of matter. It is now attsumed that it body absorbs all the colors of the spectrum except one, blue for instance, which is (rejected or) reflected to the eye. Such a body is then called blue, other colors being accounted for in the same way. Is it not evident that under such a theory said body has no more to do with color than a barn door has with a ball thrown against its and that everything is attributed to the spectrum, and that this leads to the final conclusion, that the spectrum produces color, and that colors produce the spectrum. Such a doubleacting phenomenon is fully as transparent as the push and pail which matter is said to possess, usually called the inherent property of attraction and repulsion.

Under the universal law of nature, all phenomena is said to have its rise in certain combinations and motions of matter, each element having its special shape, producing a corresponding angle of motion. which is projected in all directions (from matter in the molecular, fluid and crystalline state), such motion passing through the air (formed of atomic matter), reaching the eye and giving the impression of color. A combination of the elements and their respective angles of motion, producing rapid intensified oscillation, produces on the eye the impression of light, and such force or motion reaching any body of matter, increases its molecular motion, which is in turn projected to the eye in angles of motion due to the shapes of the elements of which it is composed, and so gives us the impression of the color of such body. This theory of color is readily comprehended, and applies equally well to a large variety of other phenomena.

- Wm. Heckert.

Yonkers, N. Y., March 15th, 1889.

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