Night Experiment

Saturday, October 13, 2007 at 12:12 PM | Filed under ,

In my Light and Color class, we learned about the rods and cones in the eyes. The cones are good for seeing colors, but they don't work well in the dark. The cones work much better in dark environments, but they can't distinguish colors. I decided it would be fun to test this.

Last night, my cousins Kevin and Daniel came over to participate. My mom and sister also wanted to participate. After it was dark outside (and there wasn't much moonlight because we just had a new moon), we turned off the lights. We had to wait a short while for the rods in our eyes to warm up, and Mom and Stephanie fell asleep before we got to the actual experiment. The original plan was to play a game of checkers, which I assumed would be difficult because we would be unable to tell the red and black checkers apart, but it so dark that I couldn't even tell the checkers apart from the checkerboard. So we settled with my backup plan: Uno.

The lighting was just right so that we could make out the numbers on the cards without too much trouble, but the difficulty lay in a frustrating inability to easily tell the cards' colors apart. Yellow appeared to be the lightest-colored card, but I couldn't be very confident what color any of the other cards might have been.


The picture is a comparison of a simulation of what the cards look like in night vision and normal vision.

Of the 49 cards we set down before Daniel won, about a third of them were illegal moves, many of which were played one after the other. Here is a table of the illegal plays.

Card on top of discard pile  Card played on discard pile
Green 2Blue Reverse
Blue 7Green 3
Green 3Red 1
Red 1Blue Skip
Green 6Blue Skip
Blue SkipGreen 9
Green 9Blue 1
Blue 7Green Skip
Green SkipBlue 5
Blue 3Yellow 6
Yellow 6Green 9
Red Draw 2Green 1
Blue 0Green 6
Green 6Blue 2
Blue 2Green Skip
Green SkipBlue Draw 2
Blue Draw 2Red 5

A simpler experiment to try in the future might be to just sort the cards by color into piles, rather than incorporate the experiment into a game, but the point was to have fun. Other activities we did not attempt included putting together a puzzle, solving a Rubik's Cube, and eating different-colored jelly beans.

I want nobody to forget: Drew Carey begins hosting The Price is Right on Monday.

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