Got a Question Nobody Can Answer? Ask a Scientist!

Do blue and yellow really make green? What color reflects the least amount of heat? What is the best color to paint walls in a factory? These and other questions about color can now be answered thanks to an innovative project at Rochester Institute of Technology.

“Ask a Color Scientist”, an Internet-based message board, allows anyone with a color-related question to connect with scientists and researchers at RIT’s Munsell Color Science Laboratory. Professors provide detailed responses and offer additional material for further study. The message board is already fielding questions from students, teachers and research scientists from around the world.

“It has been very challenging and rewarding to answer these questions as they come in,” says Mark Fairchild, director of the laboratory, in RIT’s Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science. “In particular, the queries that stump me for a while are the most fun. It is also great to receive all the thank you notes from people who have truly been helped by the answers, especially the younger children working on school science projects.”

The “Ask a Color Scientist” project was inspired by RIT President Albert Simone’s “Ask the President” Web page and is already serving as a model for other academic programs throughout the university. In addition, Fairchild is developing a parallel educational program called the Color Curiosity Shop, which will present scientific principals and theories in fun and entertaining ways to area school children.

The Munsell Color Science Laboratory, founded in 1983, was one of the first research institutes in the world devoted to the study of color science. The lab remains at the cutting edge of the field and is currently developing a doctoral program in color science.

“I am very pleased with the success of the “Ask a Color Scientist” project. It provides yet another educational outreach vehicle for the university and gives us a chance to share the unique expertise we have in Color and Imaging Science at RIT,” notes Stefi Baum, Director of RIT’s Center for Imaging Science.

To view the “Ask a Color Scientist” site, go to the Color Science homepage at As for the answers to the opening questions, you will have to ask a color scientist to find out!


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