Some color cataloging systems have evolved around names that are easier to remember and communicate, from the somewhat abstract (“New Old Rose”) to those more grounded in nature (“Robin Egg Blue). But in the digital age, a different approach to color categorization has become particularly important: sorting by number. Paint by Number Several different editions of Munsell Book of Color, image by Mark Fairchild (CC BY-SA 3.0) Current systems like RGB (Red, Green & Blue), CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow & Key [aka Black]) and hexadecimal (six-figure alphanumeric combinations) grew out of this more mathematical line of inquiry. Like nature-based naming, the evolution of numbering systems also involved a particularly key figure from the turn of the 20th Century. Atlas of the Munsell Color System, 1915 via Smithsonian Professor Albert Henry Munsell, an artist and professor, viewed word-based naming systems as “foolish and misleading.” In colorimetry, what has become known as the Munsell Color System redefined colors along three dimensions: hue, value (lightness), and chroma (purity). His early work was published in A Color Notation in 1905. Three Dimensions of Color A color sphere as illustrated in Albert Henry Munsell’s A Color Notation Munsell represented his three dimensions of color using […]
Design is everywhere in our lives, perhaps most importantly in the places where we’ve just stopped noticing. 99% Invisible (99 Percent Invisible) is a weekly exploration of the process and power of design and architecture. From award winning producer Roman Mars, KALW in San Francisco, and Radiotopia from PRX.
Soccer came to Brazil in the late 19th century. It was first a game of the elites but then over time became a game of the poor and working class. In this sense, says BBC journalist Fernando Duarte, soccer was the country’s true revolution. And if soccer is Brazil’s revolution, the Brazilian soccer shirt is its flag. Brazilians in their soccer jerseys by Danilo Borges (CC BY 3.0) The Brazilian soccer shirt is iconic. Its bright canary yellow with green trim, worn with blue shorts, is known worldwide. Compared with other soccer jerseys, the uniform is joyful and bold and seems to capture something essential about Brazil. Official poster of the 1950 World Cup But it was not always this way. Brazil used to play in plain, unremarkable white shirts. The story of how the uniform changed goes back to the World Cup of 1950, held that year in Brazil for the first time. David Goldblatt, soccer writer and historian, sees the 1950 World Cup as a transforming event in the world’s perception of Brazil — from a view of the country as an agricultural plantation economy to a new, urban industrialized power in the world. The soccer stadium built […]
Research scientist and neural network enthusiast Janelle Shan recently tasked an AI to develop attractive names for 7,700 different paint colors. Annalee Newitz of Ars Technica reports that “the longer it processed the dataset, the closer the algorithm got to making legit color names, though they were still mostly surreal” as illustrated below. In the end, Shan came to the following conclusions: (1) The neural network really likes brown, beige, and grey; (2) The neural network has really, really bad ideas for paint names.” Robots may eventually get it right — perhaps when their parameters are tweaked to reflect some realizations humans have had about naming colors after nature. Robin Egg Blue Three blue American robin eggs in a nest by DDima (CC BY-SA 1.0) In the early 1990s, an unlabeled crayon was included in Crayola boxes. Purchasers were asked to submit ideas for the color’s name. The winning selection, submitted by 8-year-old Christopher Straub, was Robin Egg Blue. Indeed, the color approximates the shade of the eggs laid by the American robin. But the first recorded use of Robin Egg Blue as a color name dates back to the late 1800s, a critical period in which new pigments were […]
In Tuscon, Arizona, most roads running east-west are called streets while roads running north-south are labeled as avenues. But there is a hybrid type unique to this city: the stravenue, a portmanteau of street and avenue used for diagonal roads (abbreviated: Stra). This unusual convention aside, though, designations tend to be more consistent — and you can get pretty far just by understanding a few common ones. In this Vox video, Phil Edwards takes you on an axonometric tour of an animated built environment, explaining the differences between various types of roads (which itself is a catch-all term for any route connecting two points). Spanning city roads, rural routes and intercity connectors, here are some of the highlights: Street (St): has buildings on both sides, perpendicular to avenues Avenue (Ave): may have trees on one side, perpendicular to streets Boulevard (Blvd): wide city street with median and side vegetation Way (Way): small side street Lane (La): narrow and often rural Drive (Dr): long, winding road shaped by natural environments Terrace (Ter): street that wraps a slope Place (Pl): no through traffic or dead end Court (Ct): ends in a circle or loop – like a plaza or square And at […]
It was the middle of the night on March 27, 1964. Earlier that evening, the second-biggest earthquake ever measured at the time had hit Anchorage, Alaska. 115 people died. Some houses had been turned completely upside down while others had skidded into the sea. The largest landslide in Anchorage occurred between Point Woronzof and Fish Creek There was no light or power city — and for a long time, virtually no communication with the outside world. But there was one signal making it out of the devastated area. This new building downtown collapsed 20 minutes after construction crews left for the day Running on backup generators and a cracked transmitter, a radio station in Anchorage continued to broadcast. Then a station in Fairbanks picked up that signal and repeated it. A man in Juneau picked up that Fairbanks station, called a radio station in Seattle and let the broadcast play over his phone. The president of that Anchorage radio station happened to be on a goodwill tour of Japan. And when he turned on a radio in Tokyo, he couldn’t believe what he was hearing — it was the voice of his own “newsgirl” back home, a woman by the […]