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Normal humans see wavelengths of light, first described by Issac Newton. Our vision of light in their wavelength order is commonly remembered with the mnemonic “Roy G Biv.” That helps people remember the order of colors based on their physical wavelength. Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo and Violet. Of course beyond both ends of this list are other physical colors that are not visible to humans, but they are visible to some other species and to human manufactured instruments.  In the normal human eye here are usually three color receptors, red, green and blue, and they can form color images in brightly illuminated scenes. Also, there is a set of rods for forming images in dim light, but this light isn’t sensed as color, only as intensity. Some insects perceive colors in the spectrum beyond human abilities and can see in an (ultra-violet) UV-blue-green  trichromacy.

The creature with the widest known color perception is the mantis shrimp with the ability to perceive with 16 differing photo-receptor pigments and integrate them into a coherent image including polarized ones.

Rather than have the various wavelengths of non-visible light in the octaves immediately above and below the visible spectrum go unnamed, we could give them normal names, just as the octaves above and below the middle octave of sound have the same letter designated names. The octave above or below is a simple harmonic of the middle one and that is why it has the same letter-valued name. A middle wavelength note in the middle octave is named C, and the same note in the octave above it is named, hi-C. It has twice the frequency and half the wavelength. The octave below has half the wavelength and twice the frequency. The same method could be used for colors above and below the middle color range, (the one we can see). Thus the first infra-red octave and the first ultra-violet octave would have names like those below, read from left to right across all three color swatches. The names instead of being letters would be common names.

alternate color names for UV and IR spectrums

Low-color name         –         Middle-color name         –       High-color name

—   low-red  low-orange   low-yellow   low-green   low-blue   low-indigo  low-violet  —

—   red   orange    yellow     green     blue    indigo    violet   —

—   hi-red   hi-orange   hi-yellow   hi-green   hi-blue   hi-indigo   hi-violet —

This is an example of using a basic idea, that of musical notes being based on sound wavelength, and color being based on electromagnetic wavelength. A crossover concept of naming the next higher and lower harmonic with a blended name, as is done when discussing musical notes.

This method of naming might be applied whenever there is a multi-level harmonic relationship observed. See music theory for the typical octave nomenclature using numbers and letters. That theory uses letters and numbers to designate the octaves, but using unique names, as we do for colors, would be more easily used and remembered for many uses. Calling the color by more precise scientific nomenclature, orange 610 nanometers, and red 700 nanometers would work well for precise needs, but would be clumsy in daily situations. This is an example of creating tools for exploring unknown unknowns.

When something becomes easier to use it becomes more useful.

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