1. Question about color/light

We recently had a fairly long discussion about the color spectrum, light, and pigments about a month ago. I was thinking about that today as I was driving my car.

As I was driving my car home today I passed an intersection with flashing yellow lights. It was dusk, and as I approached these flashing yellow lights, I looked right at them. To my surprise, for a split second they looked red. I was surprised by this, and decided to look again at the next set of flashing yellow lights. Again: for a split second they looked red as I approached them in my car and looked directly at them. (I was going approximately 80 miles per hour on a highway).

Can anyone provide an explanation for this? All light travels at the same speed, and so I see know reason why the light with red wavelength would reach my eyes at a noticeably sooner time than any of the other wavelengths. Is there any kind of optical illusion going on here?

2. I think it mentioned something about yellow lights looking red as you approach them in my driver's education manual. Stop running red lights before you kill someone.

3. You're a Cylon.

4. Originally Posted by DavidP
We recently had a fairly long discussion about the color spectrum, light, and pigments about a month ago. I was thinking about that today as I was driving my car.

As I was driving my car home today I passed an intersection with flashing yellow lights. It was dusk, and as I approached these flashing yellow lights, I looked right at them. To my surprise, for a split second they looked red. I was surprised by this, and decided to look again at the next set of flashing yellow lights. Again: for a split second they looked red as I approached them in my car and looked directly at them. (I was going approximately 80 miles per hour on a highway).

Can anyone provide an explanation for this? All light travels at the same speed, and so I see know reason why the light with red wavelength would reach my eyes at a noticeably sooner time than any of the other wavelengths. Is there any kind of optical illusion going on here?
Perhaps it has to do with the method being used to generate the light. It could be that the red part is generated first prior to the green part. /shrug

5. Originally Posted by Thantos
Perhaps it has to do with the method being used to generate the light. It could be that the red part is generated first prior to the green part. /shrug
Or perhaps at a specific angle there was something obstructing the green light completely. Though, I'm pretty sure all of those traffic lights are just white light with colored covers in front of them. I could be wrong, though.

6. Or the windshield of your car bent the light

Try hang your head out the window and see if it still happens

7. If you were moving away from the light at about .215c then a yellow light (~510THz) would appear red (~420THz). Come on, you can tell us, were you speeding away? ....really fast?

8. why the light with red wavelength would reach my eyes at a noticeably sooner time than any of the other wavelengths.
Considering speeds of 80 mph, i don't think you would have any problems with red light traveling faster or yellow traveling slower . Also, color you perceive is because of the difference in wavelengths. Lower the wavelength, higher the frequency, so the speed of all kinds of lights remains constant.

9. You ever take acid? Maybe you were tripping...

10. I think searching the physical side of things is the wrong approach. It's got to be an optical illusion.

11. I'd be inclined to think that you were looking at lots of green-coloured objects just before you looked at the light, so in contrast the yellow light looked red. Kind of like sticking your hand into cold water, and then into room temperature water. (It feels hot.)

Your speed almost certainly had nothing to do with it.

12. That pound of reefer he had right beforehand probably didn't help either

13. Originally Posted by Thantos
That pound of reefer he had right beforehand probably didn't help either
Littering and...

14. I bet it had to do with the lighting method. You said it was flashing, meaning it was on a capacitor, and it was most likely led lights, so I'm guessing what's happening is when the capacitor initially lets out the electricity, it's frequency is off a little, causing the led to mimic the effect.

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