Why is blue color rare in nature?

It may seem that the color blue is quite present in nature, because of the sky and ocean. However, this is not quite the case. Among living things, such as animals and plants, and even among ores, the color blue is of an unparalleled rarity. But what would be the reason? That’s what experts are looking to discover.

  • 10 amazing documentaries about the environment and global warming
  • Do you see the same blue as me? This is how the brain processes colors
  • Do we really know what biodiversity is?

According to scientific writer Kai Kupferschmidt, author of Blue: In Search of Nature’s Rarest Color

, we are able to see colors because each of our eyes contains millions of light-sensitive cells, which are also sensitive to a certain wavelength of light: red, green, or blue. Information from these cells arrives in our brain as electrical signals that communicate all kinds of light reflected by what we see, which is then interpreted as different shades of color.

So, when you see a blue flower, for example, it is seen that way because it absorbs the red part of the spectrum. In practice, the flower looks blue because that color is the part of the spectrum it has “rejected”. That said, in the visible spectrum, red has long wavelengths, meaning it has very low energy compared to other colors. For a flower to look blue, “it needs to be able to produce a molecule that can absorb very small amounts of energy” in order to absorb the red part of the spectrum. The generation of these molecules, which are large and complex, is difficult for plants, which is why blue flowers are produced for less than % of the nearly thousand species of flowering plants in the world.

Want to catch up on the best tech news of the day? Go and subscribe to our new channel on youtube, Canaltech News.

Every day a summary of the main news in the tech world for you!

Blue is a rare color among living things (Image: macropixel/envato)

As for minerals, their crystal structures interact with ions to determine which parts of the spectrum are absorbed and which are reflected. The lapis lazuli mineral, which produces the rare ultramarine blue pigment, contains trisulfide ions (three sulfur atoms united within a crystal lattice) that can release or bind to a single electron.

As far as animals are concerned, the blue color does not come from chemical pigments. Instead, they rely on physics to create a blue look. Blue-winged butterflies of the genus Morpho, for example, have intricately layered nanostructures on their wings that manipulate layers of light so that some colors cancel out and only the blue is reflected. A similar effect occurs in structures found in the feathers of blue jays and in the glowing rings of poisonous blue-ringed octopuses. The bright blue plumage of birds, like that of hyacinth macaws, gets its color not from pigments but from structures in the feathers that scatter light.

Last year, an Institute study of Chemistry at the University of São Paulo (IQ-USP) published in the scientific journal Science Advances, created a genuinely blue non-toxic and renewable raw material from the beetroot pigment, betanin. Typically, the color of beetroot appears because the pigment reflects red light when illuminated with white light. The researchers realized that the structure of betanin could be modified to obtain a new blue molecule, and it worked in the first attempt.

Source: Live Science, Pesquisa FAPESP

Did you like this article?

Subscribe your email on Canaltech to receive daily updates with the latest news from the world of technology.

1024 506760

506760 1024

Related Articles

Back to top button