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A Lesson In Color

Throught the books in the Harry Potter series, JK Rowling emphasizes certain things. Harry is repeatedly told that he has his mother's green eyes, for example. Voldemort is repeatedly described with red eyes.

During the battle at the end of Goblet, the prominent spells/curses were The Avada Kedavra Curse (which results in green light) and The Disarming Spell (which results in red light).

Green-eyed Harry fires the red spell against Voldemort.
Red-eyed Voldemort fires the green curse towards Harry.

Green-red.
Red-green.

Hmmm.

What significance is there to this?



The basis of my suspicions, in simple context:
  • Light reflects off certain surfaces.
  • Color is a trick of the eye. What we see as green, is not necessarily green, it just reflects green light.
  • Harry has green eyes, the Avada Kedavra Curse is green light. Could this have some importance in the series?

Wow, I've just discovered the importance of Harry's green eyes!

Okay, maybe not, but it's interesting. So is the fact that red and green are the colors that color-blind people can't distinguish. Remember when people thought that Harry was Salazar Slytherin's heir? It's something to think about, while you're looking for your lost copy of the Quibbler. ^_^

THE SCIENCE BEHIND COLOR
(Summarized and simplified, just a little)

Why do they say white has all the colors of the rainbow? When I mix paint colors, they make something closer to black.

Well the thing is, it is not true that the "white" is composed of all the colors of the rainbow, white light is.

Prove it.

It's quite simple; you don't need any fancy lab equipment either. All you need are three flashlights of green, blue, and red colored lightbulb (or just three flashlights covered with green, blue, and red candy wrappers that change the light to the necessary colors). Get a black surface and move it, along with all the other things you need, to a dark room. Shine all three lights (it is important that they are all the exact color needed) on the same area. What is the result? White light.

Want to try other experiments?
Mix and match the green, blue, and red lights to make the secondary colors.
Red + Green = Yellow
Red + Blue = Magenta
Green + Blue = Cyan

Type Primary Colors Secondary Colors* All Together Where They Apply
Light Colors Blue
Green
Red
Yellow
Cyan
Magenta
They make white. Computer screens, TVs, cameras,...
Pigment Colors Yellow
Cyan
Magenta
Blue
Green
Red
They make black. Paints, dyes, printers, markers, skin,...

The secondary colors of light are the primary colors of pigments and vice versa. Interesting, huh?

*Secondary colors are the result of the mixing of primar colors. That doesn't mean that you will always get exactly the shade the chart says you should get. Most paints are not chemically perfect.


TRY THIS
An Experiment using only your computer. You do not need to download anything. It is just something with JavaScript that allows you to change the background color of a website.
MORE

If you want to learn more or just don't quite believe my chart (it's good to be skeptical), I'll leave you with some links:
Printer and Painter Primary Colors
Color - All in the Eye of the Beholder
Exploratorium: Science Snacks: The Three Little Pig(ments)
Color Mixing

Go on a Google Search for more (I've put in some keywords to get you started).



Updated August 20, 2002; some edits September 28, 2005.
Original information came from my 8th grade science class, if anyone wants to know. All information was checked with some research.

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