Color Matters: Science: Electromagnetic Color

Four thousand years ago, the Egyptians built healing temples of light. Bathing a patient in specific colors of light produced different effects. Today we know that a blindfolded person will experience physiological reactions under different colored rays. In other words, the skin sees in technicolor.

This fact was confirmed by the noted neuropsychologist, Kurt Goldstein. In his modern classic, The Organism, he notes that stimulation of the skin by different colors leads to different effects. He states, "it is probably not a false statement to say that a specific color stimulation is accompanied by a specific response pattern of the entire organism."

In order to understand this, we must begin with the fact that color is a form of visible light. It is electromagnetic energy. The graph below shows where color is positioned in the range of radiant energy.

The Electromagnetic Spectrum

Wavelength in meters Name
(size of a nucleus)
Gamma Rays Cancer Treatment
(size of an atom)
X-Rays Materials testing
Medical x-rays
10-8 Ultraviolet Germicidal, “black light”, Suntan
(diameter of a bacteria)
Visible Color Optics
  Infrared Human body radiation
(size of a mouse)
Microwave Microwave ovens, atomic clocks
(one meter, the size of a man)
  Radar, Television, F.M. Radio, International Short-wave
(size of a village)
Radio frequency (RF) A.M. Radio
(distance from Washington D.C. to Chicago)
Audio frequency Long-wave broadcast
(distance to the moon)
  Brain waves

Specific Colors

Note: Ultraviolet and infrared are given as a point of reference.
They are not visible colors.

Color Wavelength mµ
(billionths of a meter)
Ultraviolet 380-280 The smaller the wavelength, the smaller the structures with which they interact and the more powerful the energy. Gamma rays (the size of a nucleus) are more powerful than A.M. radio waves (the size of a village) Violet at 400 mµ is stronger than red at 700 mµ.
mµ =nanometers
Violet 430-390
Indigo 450-440
Blue 480-460
Green 530-490
Yellow 580-550
Orange 640-590
Red 750-650
Infrared 1000-750