The Average Color of the Universe
Credit: Karl Glazebrook & Ivan Baldry (JHU)
Explanation: What color is the universe? More precisely, if the entire sky were smeared out, what color would the final mix be? This whimsical question came up when trying to determine what stars are commonplace in nearby galaxies. The answer, depicted above, is a conditionally perceived shade of beige. To determine this, astronomers computationally averaged the light emitted by one of the largest sample of galaxies yet analyzed: the 200,000 galaxies of the 2dF survey. The resulting cosmic spectrum has some emission in all parts of the electromagnetic spectrum, but a single perceived composite color.
"The image does not last long: a few minutes, and the sunlight grows red with effort redder and redder, cold at first, and then increasing in warmth. The sun dissolves the whole of Moscow into a single spot, which, like a wild tuba, sets all one’s soul vibrating. No, this red fusion is not the most beautiful hour! It is only the final chord of the symphony, which brings every color vividly to life, which allows and forces the whole of Moscow to resound like the fortissimo of a giant orchestra. Pink, lilac, yellow, white, blue, pistachio green, flame red houses, churches, each an independent song - the garish green of the grass, the deeper tremolo of the trees, the singing snow with it’s thousand voices, or the allegreto of the bare branches, the red, still, silent ring of the Kremlin walls…to paint this hour, I thought, must be for an artist the most impossible, the greatest joy."
Blue, Moon, by Ryan McGinley, 2009
“People fall in love with McGinley’s work because it tells a story about liberation and hedonism: Where Goldin and Larry Clark were saying something painful and anxiety producing about Kids and what happens when they take drugs and have sex in an ungoverned urban underworld, McGinley started out announcing that “The Kids Are Alright,” fantastic, really, and suggested that a gleeful, unfettered subculture was just around the corner—’still’—if only you knew where to look.”
- Ariel Levy for New York Magazine, via Fox Is Black