CUT THE RIBBON, FLUORESCENT COLORS

Posted on February 6, 2014 by Editorial Staff

Pink, blue, green, orange, yellow. Vivid tones,  psychedelic colors. The subversive 80’s fashion, used and reused till nowadays. Fluorescent colors exist naturally with certain minerals, but it wasn’t until the 40s that those colors were developed so that they could be seen as vividly during the day as they could under an ultraviolet light. Ready to cut the ribbon? In 1656 Nicolas Monarde, a Spanish physician and botanist, published the Historia Medicinal de las cosas que se traen de nuestras Indias in which he describes the bluish opalescence of the water infusion from the wood of a small Mexican Tree. In 1612 Galileo Galilei desciberd the emission of light (phosphorescence) from a famous Bolognian stone. And so on and on and on. Bob and Joe Switzer, two brothers born in Montana and raised in California, experimented with fluorescent dyes and hot alcohol in the 1930s until they created what we now know as “Day-Glo” colors. Initially created to aid with magic tricks and other illusions, the new tints were quickly adopted by the military in World War II to send signals to airplanes from the ground, in lifeboats to promote visibility and for aircraft carrier crews to aid in landings. After that, the colors took off in all forms. When fluorescent materials are involved, the effect of color and fluorescence is not so straightforward. The reason fluorescent colors are so bright is that they are fluorescent. In other words they absorb light from one part of the spectrum and emit it at a higher wavelength.