Magenta

Magenta


My favorite color is blue.  The name blue covers a lot of range.  There are the deepest, dark midnight blues that scream authority, like a cop’s uniform.  There are the light cyan blues, that whisper calm potential, like a summer sky the morning of a rockin’ birthday party.


To put a finer point on it, my favorite color is cornflower blue.  Your favorite movie Fight Club used this shade wonderfully.  What cornflower blue symbolizes in that movie has nothing to do with what it does for me.  Cornflower blue is my color of calm concentration, the color of life going in the right direction.


To sharpen the point even finer, my favorite color is Crayola Crayon Cornflower Blue.  This is a different color from the Cornflower Blue used in the computer X11 color-naming scheme.  Of course, neither of these colors matches the actual color of a real cornflower.

This is a Cornflower.  Not the color that Crayola says it should be.


Blue may be my favorite color, but Magenta is the most badass of colors.


Rainbows


I like rainbows.  Rainbows don’t come around often here.  The kind of weather that makes rainbows also makes things like sun showers, thunderstorms, and hail.  If you didn’t know, this kind of weather are bad for our kind of farming.  That last kind of weather, the one that starts with the letter ’H’, isn’t said by polite company – it was hard for me to even type out.  Rainbows make me smile, even though the days that bring them fuel nightmares.

 This is a rainbow

This is a rainbow

Rainbows have seven colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet; pure white sunlight has all the different colors bundled together.  
Light is a wave. When the peaks are far apart, we see the light as red; when the peaks are close together, we see it as violet.  When that white light hits moisture in the air in the right way, all the colors separate out.  Leprechauns could not have chosen a prettier place to keep their pots of gold.
Scientists have measured the wavelengths, how far apart the peaks of the waves are, of the different colors of light.

 Our friend the color spectrum.

Our friend the color spectrum.

Violet is not the same as purple.  Violet has just one wavelength.  Purple (and the entire pink-purple line of color) has two wavelengths.  Because purples are not on the rainbow, they are ‘extra-spectral’ colors.  Purples are a mixture of reds and blues.  Magenta is one type of purple, an even mix of red and blue.


The Eye

 This is an eye.

This is an eye.

The eyes are not just the windows to the soul.  They are also what we use to see.


The wee do-dads inside our eyes that let us see colors are called cones.  Most people have three kinds of cones: short, medium, and long:

 
* Short (AKA blue) cones read color when wavelengths of about 440 nm hit them.  
* Medium (AKA green) cones read color at 535 nm.  
* Long (AKA red (even though my chart says yellow is much closer)) cones read color at 565 nm.  


All these numbers actually represent distributions, but whatever, life is sloppy.


The long and medium cones work together to perceive the color yellow.  If the long cone turns on but the Medium one doesn’t, you see red.  When it’s the other way around, you see green.  When both the long and medium cones turn on you see yellow.


One of the nifty quirks of the eye-brain circuitry is called the “opponent process”.  You can’t physically perceive yellow and blue at the same time.  You can’t see green and red at the same time either.  Bluish-yellow and greenish-red are called impossible colors.  I have come across green/red incompatibility in real life.  When leaves first open up in the spring they are sometimes red.  Green color develops from the inside out, as the leaf gets older.  This is what I have seen over time.  


* Week 1: leaves are all red, and the whole tree looks red from far away.  
* Week 2: leaves are green in the middle but red on the outside, and the whole tree looks red from far away.  
* Week 3: leaves are green except for the edges, and the whole tree looks green from far away.  


From then on, the tree looks green from both near and far.  From far away it isn’t a slow process of changing from red to green, one day it looks red the next green.
Magenta is what happens to your brain when both the long and short cones are activated, but the medium isn’t.  Magenta is what happens to your brain when the eye sees all the colors but green.


Color Models


In school, they teach us that there are three primary colors: red, yellow, and blue; usually wrapped into a circle.  This is from an old system for mixing paints.  When you mix all three primary colors together, you get brown.  There are other systems of color mixing separate from the classic painter’s wheel, the additive RGB model and the subtractive CMYK model.

 RGB, the middle is white. 

RGB, the middle is white. 

The additive RGB model combines sources of red, green, and blue light as primary colors to make different shades.  As you can see above, when you mix all three primary colors together, you get white light.  This is the model of light that computer monitors use. The X11 color pallet hex numbers is really helpful for standardizing colors in day-to-day life; if more people used X11, different colors with the same name (like with Cornflower Blue) wouldn’t happen so often.

 CYMK, the middle is black.

CYMK, the middle is black.

The subtractive CMYK model combines cyan, magenta, yellow, and black.  The three primary colors cancel each other out to make different shades.  The Black is mostly there to save money, by not using so much colored ink.  When you mix the three colors together, you get no color (black) as the result.  You use this model in color computer printers.
In both models, magenta and green are opposites


Plant physiology


Plant leaves turn sunlight into food at the same time they turn CO2 into O2, through our friend: photosynthesis.  Leaves are green because the green wavelength parts of pure sunshine are not used in photosynthesis.  In the chart below, that light from 500–600 nm is unused.  This green light bounces off the leaves, and into our eyes; it is a waste to the plant.

 These are the spectra that plants absorb.

These are the spectra that plants absorb.

Plants get stressed.  Think of a leaf as a mushy middle sandwiched between two waxy faces.  When the mushy center has more O2 vs. CO2 in it than normal, photosynthesis does not go well.  Usually, this happens when the leaf does not have enough water in it to make gas exchange with the world outside the leaf work right.  The fancy pants name for this kind of stress is “photorespiration”.  The plant doesn’t just loose energy from a lack of good quality photosynthesis, but it has to use energy to clean itself up from the photorespiration.  Photorespiration is bad.


There is a super-sweet model of apple tree respiration written by a guy named Dr. Allen Lasko.  In this model, Dr. Lasko points out that apple trees can go into photorespiration in situations when other plants would not.  Apple trees are better at photosynthesis than they are at airing out their leaf mush, making photorespiration happen at better leaf-moisture levels than other plants.  He also points out that it’s direct sunlight that drives plant stress not indirect.  If you alter the ratio of direct to indirect sunlight, so that there is more indirect light relative to direct, you could avoid stress and increase the amount of total plant photosynthesis.


Putting a mesh tent over an orchard is one way to lower the direct, while raising the indirect, leaf sunlight.  When pure sunshine hits the net, three things happen:

 
* light goes through the holes in the mesh, 
* light bounces off the mesh and away from the orchard, and
* light bounces off the mesh hitting leaves indirectly.  


Several companies make these meshes; two are Extenday and Inseason Ag.

People are now playing around with colored nets.  Both Dr. Avi Sadka and Dr. Yosepha Shakak are working with them.  I have seen pictures of white, black, blue, green, yellow, and red tents out in field trials, but not magenta.

Magenta, that glorious anti-green, would suck up the stress-causing green spectrum and reflect the yummy, blue-red light that plants crave.

 This is a normal, white tent. 

This is a normal, white tent. 

 This is what a magenta tent would look like.

This is what a magenta tent would look like.


Magenta looks a lot like pink.  I’m not man enough to put a big pink tent out in one of my fields.