Saturday 14 September 2013

Blue colourblind

Because these images are clipped from their originals all have exactly the same amount of information in the Claude Shannon information theory sense.  The conceit at allRGB being that you are tasked to create a 4096x4096 pixel image that includes all 256x256x256 = 16777216 possible RGB colours from #000000 to #FFFFFF.  The fact that you can describe the effective information in the left hand picture with far fewer words than the fractal tree in the middle or the Mandelbrot detail on the right gives a clue about how we keep pictures small on The Blob. I care about these things after the years when every byte that came onto my computer at home had to squeeze up a thin 15km-long copper wire.  I use the wonderful IrfanView to reduce the size of pictures by half or to 10% and the byte-count collapses to the benefit of my copper-wireaders in Bangalore, Ballygobackwards and Bohemia.  Somewhere on the checker-board is cerise, magenta, sky-blue and kelly-green and every colour you've ever seen on a screen, but effectively it's "8x8 512pixel squares alternating light and dark grey" which  description is 52 x 128 bits or about 0.2kb.

The Mandelbrot link above points to his 24/7 talk at the 2006 Ignoble Awards.  That's 24 seconds to talk comprehensively about something than matters, followed by a 7 second executive summary.  Poor old Benoit blew it on the talk (any rambling or parenthesis and the time-up whistle comes before you've finished the first sentence) but summarised his huge contribution to the understanding of our world as "Beautiful, damned hard, increasingly useful, that's fractals".  Like with Globish, such constraints force us to think about what we really mean to say.  Eric Lander, a good showman, has clearly thought about and practiced his nanolecture on the Genome and thought about his summary "Genome, bought the book, hard to read".  And although her talk on Biology is too wordy and technical I like Dany Adams' summary "If it can get infected, it's biology".

And while we are on colour, what are we to make of the La Bandera Astoriana which Wikipedia says is an alpha and omega suspended from a golden (Pantone PMS 109 yellow) Cruz de la Victoria on a blue (Pantone PMS 829) ground?  Because . . . there is no such colour as PMS 829!  I've asked El Asturiano about this anomaly but he took a lurch sideways to tell me about The sacred cave of Covadonga and King Favila who was killed by a bear. The Bear is celebrated by Asturian Republicans, which is rather like the Catalans celebrating the Fall of Barcelona in 1714.   More discussion on the Asturian flag's blue tone.

And thanks to The Blue (Metafilter) for starting me down that rabbit hole.


  1. 1. Los colores de la bandera del Principado de Asturias especificados en el Sistema Internacional CIELAB, serán los siguientes:

    Color Tono H en º Croma C Claridad L
    Azul 260,0 45,0 50,0
    Amarillo 85,0 35,0 60,0

  2. Gracias! Wikipedia has got it wrong again; but I'm still curious about how that wrongness crept in. We looked at whether 829 was really 289 or 529 or B59 but no simple explanation seemed to hold water.