Helen Czerski uncovers what colour is, how it works and how it has written the story of our planet. She seeks out the colours that turned the Earth multicoloured.

Colour: The Spectrum of Science - Netflix

Type: Documentary

Languages: English

Status: To Be Determined

Runtime: 60 minutes

Premier: 2015-11-04

Colour: The Spectrum of Science - Theory of Colours - Netflix

Theory of Colours (German: Zur Farbenlehre) is a book by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe about the poet's views on the nature of colours and how these are perceived by humans. It was published in German in 1810 and in English in 1840. The book contains detailed descriptions of phenomena such as coloured shadows, refraction, and chromatic aberration. The work originated in Goethe's occupation with painting and mainly exerted an influence on the arts (Philipp Otto Runge, J. M. W. Turner, the Pre-Raphaelites, Wassily Kandinsky). The book is a successor to two short essays entitled “Contributions to Optics”. Although Goethe's work was rejected by physicists, a number of philosophers and physicists have concerned themselves with it, including Thomas Johann Seebeck, Arthur Schopenhauer (see: On Vision and Colors), Hermann von Helmholtz, Rudolf Steiner, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Werner Heisenberg, Kurt Gödel, and Mitchell Feigenbaum. Goethe's book provides a catalogue of how colour is perceived in a wide variety of circumstances, and considers Isaac Newton's observations to be special cases. Unlike Newton, Goethe's concern was not so much with the analytic treatment of colour, as with the qualities of how phenomena are perceived. Philosophers have come to understand the distinction between the optical spectrum, as observed by Newton, and the phenomenon of human colour perception as presented by Goethe—a subject analyzed at length by Wittgenstein in his comments on Goethe's theory in Remarks on Colour.

Colour: The Spectrum of Science - Experiments with turbid media - Netflix

The action of turbid media was to Goethe the ultimate fact—the Urphänomen—of the world of colours.

He then proceeds with numerous experiments, systematically observing the effects of rarefied mediums such as dust, air, and moisture on the perception of colour.

Goethe's studies of colour began with experiments which examined the effects of turbid media, such as air, dust, and moisture on the perception of light and dark. The poet observed that light seen through a turbid medium appears yellow, and darkness seen through an illuminated medium appears blue.

Colour: The Spectrum of Science - References - Netflix