• Rowan Prescott Hedley

Top 5 Things That Are Blue

Apart from the actual colour blue, which is singularly the superior colour. There are so many types of blue for so many different occasions. And it has the highest frequency of the basic colours in the visible light spectrum. So many more waves to go around.

Photo by Alex

A brief moment, if you will, on the concept 'being' blue.


Something that 'is blue' is this colour simply because as an object it absorbs all other wavelengths of light and reflects these 'blue' ones.


Blue light is a collection of wavelengths within the category of visible light (to humans) along a spectrum of waves. At either extremes of visible light are UV 'light' and infra-red 'light'.


At the extreme of the infra-red 'light' end are radio waves, with the longest wavelength. At the extreme of the UV 'light' end are gamma waves, commonly understood as radiation, with the shortest wavelength.


Quick tangent.

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At the time of writing, Hinkley Point C is still yet to be completed. This nuclear reactor would join Hinkley Point B which is still functional and A which is still in the process of decommissioning.


If Chernobyl and Fukushima have taught us anything, it is that these disasters are totally technically avoidable and down to human error and/or negligence.


Consider the state of the country and the planet, the leaders we have in power and the rhetoric we experience daily. Rhetoric like not believing scientists, not needing experts, and pushing people and processes beyond their expected breaking points.


Hinkley Point B was originally planned to close in 2023 but is now expected to remain working for much longer.


Listen to Greta Thurnberg (8mins 30) for a succinct explanation of how her environmental school strike fits into this culture of dismissal of expertise.


In this political and social climate, do we really need another nuclear potential weapon that could harm people and the planet, in the hands of people who will be expected to out-perform realism and cut some seemingly insignificant corners in the process?


Especially considering the radioactive waste necessary to these systems which damages food chains and water ways. Particularly when we have the technology to power the UK almost entirely by using safer renewable energy!


Contact your MP for, hopefully, more information and the opportunity to register your concern about Hinkley. Whilst you're there, why not consider HS2 as well.


This will be the largest deforestation programme in the UK since WW1 (5mins 40). How ludicrous is this for the sake of slightly faster travel times when local and central governments are declaring a Climate Crisis.


We know that plants, particularly trees, are pivotal to the carbon cycle and reducing global temperatures.


Tangent over, now to detour through radiation.


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So, gamma waves, or gamma energy manifested by these waves, are generally understood to be radiation - harmful radiation.


In fact, this spectrum is all the same type of thing, electromagnetic waves, otherwise known as EM waves or EM radiation. This means that everything on the spectrum is radiation but with varying degrees of harm to humans.


We know about the harms from gamma waves, x-rays, and UV rays from the sun and sunbeds, both UVA and UVB. We also know about the healing properties of photo (light) treatment on psoriasis and the benefits of increased vitamin D in the body from exposure to sunlight.


Nevertheless it is all 'radiation'; EM waves at different wavelengths. So you can carry on eating that ramen or reheated leftovers, microwaves are basically safe.


You may also have heard about the Cosmic Microwave Background as proof of the Big Bang. This 'radiation' is around us constantly.


I find this stuff fascinating, evidently.


So! If something is blue, that object is reflecting some wavelengths and absorbing others, resulting in our eye receiving wavelengths of the area of the spectrum of visible light known as 'blue'.


Now a short trip through culture and language.


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What is 'blue'? I've already said that 'blue' is the superior colour because of its sheer variance, but this is in English.


In other languages, belonging to cultures that value and work with things that are 'blue' more than old England, there are more words specifying different basic root colours which English lumps together into the basic root 'blue'.


English has 11 basic colour root words: 'black', 'white', 'red', 'green', 'yellow', 'blue', 'brown', 'orange', 'pink', 'purple', and 'grey'.


Russian has 12, it separates out 'azure' from 'blue', which English would simply describe as a compound colour of 'bright sky blue'.


However, on the contrary, Chinese, Japanese, and Mandarin describe 'blue' and 'green' as different shades of the same basic root colour. Much in the way that English uses 'light' and 'dark' to describe different shades of the same colour.


English is funny like that. There is no more of a wavelength difference between 'pink' and 'red' than there is 'light green' and 'dark green' but 'pink' and 'red' get their own individual basic colour root name.


Interestingly, all languages follow the same basic chronological structure of naming colours, suggesting this is, at last partly, a biological process.


First are the names for 'light' and 'dark' i.e. 'white' and 'black', then is the distinction of 'red'. So any language with 3 names for colours will have words describing these 3 colours.


Then is either 'green' or 'yellow' closely followed by the other 'yellow' or 'green', after which 'blue' appears.


Beyond 'blue' the categories get broader but each language will develop names to describe all the colours in each category before any from the next.


But 'blue' is also conceptual. All colours have a tone or a temperature, 'warm' or 'cold' and emotional responses to go along with these.


But 'blue' is the only one with its own whole mood. So, to the list!


Photo by Picography

1 Blue Mood


'Feeling blue' itself isn't great but the concept of a whole spectrum of emotion ranging from nostalgia to melancholy to grief to dejection is an impressive feat no other colour could take on.


Perhaps it's because English doesn't separate blues like some other languages. Perhaps it's because people in Old England had so much to be blue about and more ways that they were, and we modern folk are, blue.


Perhaps it's because we have so much rain and different types of rain; sideways, sleet, rainy fog, showers, drizzle, heavy downpours, that we have a deep comprehension of the vastness of blue-ness and everything it can encompass.


Either way blue mood is so broad yet so precisely understood that we don't even have to use the emotional descriptors other colours do, like 'green with envy' or 'red with anger'.


Culture, especially cultures other to your own, is often pitted as beautiful and fascinating and something to be experienced as wholly as possible. Yet 'feeling blue' is not quite in this category of 'nice and interesting things for people to experience and develop understandings of when visiting'.


Otherwise visitors might simply wander around experiencing all the different ways they can 'feel blue' and notice how other people understand how they feel just by saying they 'feel blue' instead of having a cheeky Nando's or some fish and chips and spending 2p's in an arcade.


Therefore blue mood is quite the cultural identifier as well as a linguistic shorthand for complex uncomfortable feelings we generally prefer not to talk about in too much detail. Thanks blue.



2 Natural Blue


What else is there?


71% of the planet is ocean/sea/water, which looks any variant of blue, and 100% of the sky (without the clouds) looks blue.


Blue is almost everything.


Even if you're in here saying "It's not actually blue it just looks blue!"

Have a look at my science splurge above where I talked about how nothing is 'actually blue' it simply depends which wavelengths of light are reflected off a surface and into your eye.


Water and the sky reflect more blue than any other wavelength of visible light therefore they are as blue as anything else going.


Also, of all the things that live and have lived on this planet, the biggest ever is the BLUE Whale! The most amount of animal in one place, at any time in the Earth's history is blue and has blue in its name.


Blue is quite literally the colour of life, and life's pretty alright, right?



Bonus natural blue thing... A blue moon. Even local celestial life has blue-ness.


This is arguably the best natural blue thing. It's real, occurring roughly every 2 and a half years but it's also conceptual.


Bad things are better when they only happen 'once in a blue moon', which can mean much longer than 2 and a half years if you want. Good things mean more and feel more 'good' when they happen rarely, which can be as frequently as every 2 and a half years if you want.


The blue moon is a social construct surrounding a physical event that we use to make ourselves feel better. Such audacious humanity.



Bonus bonus 'natural' blue thing... Blue Cow. What a cracking childhood.



3 Blue Light (Services)


Blue light is beautiful. My favourite fairy lights are either every colour or only blue. It's the best colour on its own. Calm but still quite dramatic and cool colour but warm amount of light. Perfect balance.


This was so difficult to achieve in an LED that the people who succeeded in doing so won a Nobel Prize for it. With the blue LED, white LED light could be developed which has transformed lighting to a much, ironically, 'greener' venture.


Blue light is most notable on the tops of speeding vehicles. Usually accompanied by a sometimes excessively aggressive siren, though a perfect working example of the Doppler effect.


Blue light services don't need much introduction. Emergency services that save lives, put out fires, cut people free, and instill peace.


They have been chronically underfunded and poorly directed in recent history. From Thatcher directing riot police to peaceful picket lines in the miners' strike and oppressive violent treatment of New Age travellers in the Battle of the Beanfield, to NHS cuts under Jeremy Hunt and kettling student protests in 2010.


They seem to do what they can, responding to a fraught climate of increasing social demand, disdain for taxes, and siphoned funds into private pockets. I don't envy the job.


Whilst there are people in the services who mean well and have open minds to the oppression experienced by others which they themselves don't experience, we have something to work with.


Not every police officer is brutal but we do have to keep fighting to root out systemic sexism, racism, homophobia, ableism, and ageism from the system they function in.


The same with every state organisation.


We will, and they will be brilliant. Responsive to the multiculture around them and peaceful in their intentions. For the good work they do do, they absolutely deserve to be on this list.


Along with the really pretty fairy lights.



4 Eyes


Who doesn't want to be a mutant?


Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, X-Men (and women), and Tom Holland's delightful depiction of our new favourite mutant Spider-Man.


Blue eyes are a mutation. People with blue eyes are at worst, all descendants of a pretty snazzy original mutant, at best, pretty snazzy mutants in their own right.


You blue-ies can use your familial mutation to identify relatives, distant relatives admittedly but us brown/hazel/green-ies have to make do with research or family gatherings to be sure if someone is related to us at all.


Well not always. Uncle Dave always seemed like he'd just shown up to a wedding once and then started getting invited to things and kept coming for the free nibbles.


You lot can just look at someone and know that you have a few more genetics in common. It's not a great mutant super power but it is something.



5 Bruises


Bruises are brilliant. Counterintuitive displays of strength by showing that you have been injured, at least bashed with some vigour, but that you are strong and powerful because you are showing it off.


The peak of this self-congratulation is the poke. Direct aggravation of an already slightly damaged area of the body just to present your 10 year old grit.


Maybe you even let someone else poke your bruise and let slip just then how much it really hurts when they do that so they know exactly how brave you were being when you poked it yourself.


Maybe you suggest it hurts more than it actually does. We've all done it.


Bruises with a bit of purple or red were particularly impressive because they showed some element of blood. A blood blister, bursting of a minor vessel, or even a graze all add to the prestige of that particular bruise.


But, coming out on top are, what we would call, green bruises. Those spectacular rarities that confused our innocent Primary brains and continued to hold nostalgic prowess through Secondary to reading this now.


I must confess, I currently have a green bruise and am so proud of it, and without a playground of friends to show it off to, have included bruises in this list.


Nevertheless the point stands. Bruises are currency in the playground. Who said Bulldog didn't teach us anything?


I hear you. "You just said green bruises are best and they're not blue!"


Well, yes, in English.


If you read my science splurge above you will know that in Chinese, Japanese, and Mandarin there is one basic root colour, , that encompasses all of what English classes as blue or green.


I am keeping this one. Bruises are usually blue and are wonderful, the best bruises are green but linguistically they are blue as well. All round win. Much like a gr.. blue bruise.


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 ©RowanPrescottHedley2020