How Colors Are Discovered by Liz Stinson (Gizmondo)

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(Anthony Waichulis) #1

How Colors Are Discovered by Liz Stinson (Gizmondo)


Graphic: Jim Cooke via Shutterstock

In the early 18th century, German chemist Johann Jacob Diesbach was at work in a laboratory trying to make a red pigment out of cochineal insects, the tiny bugs whose extract dyes everything from food to lipstick. Diesbach hypothesized that he could combine the carmine extract with alum, iron sulfate, and potash to make the pale red hue he desired. There was a problem, though. The potash Diesbach used had been contaminated, which altered the chemical makeup of his pigment. Instead of red, Diesbach had unwittingly created something far more valuable: a deep ocean-like blue…” -Liz Stinson