Empowering young innovators

Thomas Sanchez Lengeling 

March 22, 2019

Lengeling, Thomas Sanchez, and Adrian Jinich. “Empowering Young Innovators.” Science 363, no. 6433 (March 22, 2019): 1294–1294.


We are surrounded by a group of high school and college students in Mérida, Mexico, in a classroom that is completely dark except for beams of colored light. We are using a black box full of LEDs to irradiate colored objects with a specific frequency of light. One student manipulates the dial on the box, and the beams gradually shift from a monochromatic deep red to bright blue to pure white. With this tool, called an iLuminator, we can explore the limitations of human vision. Students learn that light consists of a continuum of different wavelengths and that our perception of color is constrained by our three different types of color receptors. One student comments that some objects that she perceives as orange under ambient light brightly reflect both red and green spectral light, revealing their “true” color spectrum.

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