Talk:White

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This article has comments here.

Definition / meaning[edit]

I think the opening of the article should match that of the articles on the other major colors; with a definition that's short, not too technical and is understandable to laymen, along with a simple example - in this case, fresh milk or snow. I think the best source is the Oxford English dictionary definition: "Of the colour of fresh milk or snow; having that colour produced by reflection, transmission or emission of all wavelengths of visible light without absorption, being fully luminous and devoid of any hue." SiefkinDR (talk) 10:38, 16 September 2013 (UTC)


This page is completely missing even a definition of a white pigment or material -- something that reflects all light. Giving a summery of the whitest-known materials (reflect maximal amounts of light in different ranges) would be nice... —Preceding unsigned comment added by 66.92.74.250 (talk) 19:02, 25 January 2008 (UTC)

In Hinduism, the people wear white cothing when someone dies

This article, it seems to me, confuses pigment color and light color, or, actually, ignores pigment color. I have no competence in this field, but it does seem that someone who does should take a look. Ortolan88

in some cultures white is associated with death

vietnamese people wear white at funerals, or so i heard

In Chinese culture, white is the funeral color as well. Fuzheado 03:18, 23 Mar 2004 (UTC)
I've heard that in African cultures white meant death. --Dbenbenn 02:27, 19 Dec 2004 (UTC)

White means peace.

Racial interpretation[edit]

Should the pages for "white", "whites" and "black" ("blacks" just redirects) be standardized somehow? Personally, I'd rather see the racial interpretation of "white" handled via "white (race)" or "white (ethnicity)" or whatever.... - dcljr 18:59, 7 Jul 2004 (UTC)

I think we need to create white (disambiguation) page and move all except the color there. Same with black. The current disambig on the bottom (People whose surname is white, Other definitions) is just plain un-wiki and confusing. --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus 17:40, 10 Aug 2004 (UTC)

External link[edit]

Yesterday, User:Matthew Stannard added a link [1] to a course at a London community college entitled "The colour white". I reverted it [2]. Matt wrote on my talk page:

People who use an encyclopedia might be doing so because they want to learn something. People who want to learn more than the encyclopedia contains might be interested in finding out how. Putting a link on a page to a course specifically about the subject of the article might not add much, but it adds something, don't you think? Why take it out? I've put it back anyway. Matt Stan 12:12, 8 Jan 2005 (UTC)

I decided to reply here. I don't think the link should be here because

  1. It doesn't actually tell you anything about white itself; it only indicates the existence of a course about white.
  2. It seems like a mild form of advertising.

Wikipedia isn't a link farm. But it isn't something I feel strongly about; I'm not going to remove it again. Dbenbenn 17:48, 8 Jan 2005 (UTC)

I've removed it again, it really doesn't shed any light on the topic of the colour white. I have a really nice shirt that's white; that doesn't mean that should be mentioned in this article. Wikipedia is not a general knowledge base. --fvw* 00:28, 2005 Jan 9 (UTC)

Categorizing white[edit]

I recently created categories for colors as shades of R-O-Y-G-C-B-V. How can white be categorized in this?? Georgia guy 17:55, 25 Jun 2005 (UTC)

It can't nor can magenta as far as I can see. Jimp 05:56, 29 March 2007 (UTC)

"Zero hue"?[edit]

The article says that white "has high brightness but zero hue". In the hue-saturation-lightness color model, at least, you get white when lightness is at a maximum, no matter what the hue. From this point of view, white is the lightest "light red", the lightest "light blue", the lightest "light green", and so on; so it doesn't seem to make sense to say that white has zero hue, because the "hue" of white is irrelevant. Does this make sense, or am I a raving crackpot? —Bkell 07:56, 21 August 2005 (UTC)

It makes sense to me. I've just changed it but I hadn't read your comments first. I've changed it to "has high brightness and no hue". Jimp 05:55, 29 March 2007 (UTC)
Another thing this acrticle does not mention is an is an illusion that white (or black) have a hue of something seen near them (Human then thinks it is simply the very bright/glowing thing of that nearby color.), even though in reallity it often has no hue. I found no mention of this effect in any other article. -Zondartul
It has to do with color constancy and chromatic adaptation, which is why it is meaningless to talk about perceived colors without talking about the complete setup of observer and scene. This is the basis of a lot of Visual illusions.--Thorseth (talk) 23:12, 17 August 2009 (UTC)

Macs[edit]

Anyone besides me think that mentioning Apple Macintosh computers under the heading 'Computers' is off-topic? --Andymussell 21:32, 29 December 2005 (UTC)

Word root[edit]

I came here looking for the source of the word white. It has this info for days of the week and the names of months. anybody who knows anything about this want to add it?--Olsdude 02:00, 11 January 2006 (UTC)

Picture[edit]

What does white look like? I would like a picture. P.S. I'm blind.

Added reference to Korea, and separated India from East Asia. In India, the symbolic representation of white has similarities with East Asian cultures, but ultimately represents different things. Intranetusa (talk) 17:47, 3 February 2008 (UTC)

"White" outside of visibility[edit]

the visible part of light is just a small section of a much much larger spectrum, so could an object be visibly white, yet non-visibly black, or vise-versa? that is, an object that, while it reflects all visible light, absorbs infrared and ultraviolet light. this would mean that two different white objects could have much different efficiencies when used to reflect light to keep something cool for instance. just a thought. Sahuagin (talk) 18:09, 16 February 2008 (UTC)

While such objects most certainly exists, white is a perceptional quality and since no one can perceive anything outside the visible the object would not be called white unless they were visibly white--Thorseth (talk) 10:50, 13 March 2009 (UTC)

Carte blanche[edit]

I don't see any mention of carte blanche in the article.

I think it's about any form of signed document, with the field for purpose left empty, to be filled by the possessor as needed. Meaning a "license for everything". But I'm not completly sure about that, so maybe someone else should add it to the list.91.67.3.245 (talk) 21:50, 18 July 2008 (UTC)

Better lead[edit]

The lead is actually not very good (white color can be made with a yellow and blue laser)

Here is new lead it is a bit more technical:

White is a color, the perception which is evoked by light that stimulates all three types of color sensitive cone cells in the human eye in near equal way and with high brightness compared to the surroundings.

Its not the final word but I think it is more accurate --Thorseth (talk) 12:49, 15 August 2008 (UTC)

Flawed definition...[edit]

The statement "white is all colors" is so widespread even here on Wikipedia ( White_noise ) that it might deserve its own section, here is my proposal:

Flawed Definition

The notion that white light can be defined as a mixture of "all colors" or "all visible wavelengths"[1], is widespread and might stem from the fact that sunlight is composed of light with wavelengths across the visible spectrum as discovered by Newton. Concluding that since "all colors" produce white light then white must be made up of "all colors" is a common logical error called affirming the consequent, which might be the cause of the misunderstanding. --Thorseth (talk) 14:37, 19 August 2008 (UTC)
But is sunlight white, is white the proportional mix of wavelengths that looks white to a human eye, or is white an equal mix of all wavelengths in the visual spectrum? I could see it being the first two. But it can't be the first and the third. Sunlight's emission spectrum is not equal across the visual spectrum. --Agentchuck (talk) 02:40, 18 September 2009 (UTC)

White is what humans perceive as white, sunlight is a special kind of white light, and the equal mix will give a blue/greenish color quite far from being white. --Thorseth (talk) 07:37, 18 September 2009 (UTC)

"White", as taught many years ago, was one of two "Non-Colors" (the other being black). When referencing light, white was stated to be the balanced presence of all color (or as humanly perceived three colors). When speaking of pigments it was said to be the lack of all color. Black, conversely, was the absence of all light, and the presence of all pigment. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Moonroverer (talkcontribs) 03:22, 20 March 2011 (UTC)

Tone vs. color[edit]

I have changed "tone" to "color" in the lead. The disambiguation tone has no mention referring to color."Color tone" might also be appropriate but Color tone is a redirect to color theory, which I also find a little strange.--130.225.235.202 (talk) 12:55, 18 November 2008 (UTC)

What?[edit]

White is white. It is the absence of colour. Once you tint it blue or yellow or pink or whatever, it's not white anymore because now it absorbs some light, when white should reflect all light. Having said that, can someone explain to me why there is a "Shades of white" section at the bottom, and why the picture of white shows shades of blue and yellow? Thanks, Clem (talk) 16:33, 23 May 2009 (UTC)

Absence of "color" on white paper, yes. Absence of color in sunlight, no. Absence of color from a RGB computer screen no. A tinted "white" surface viewed under a certain light source, may look completely white. White is perception, its not a physical quality, it is dependent on the general lightning of the scene and nearby colors in the scene and many other factors. --Thorseth (talk) 09:23, 24 May 2009 (UTC)
At the both of you and with regards to White, Grey and other harmonic configurations.
Terms: Colouration - Applying or applied multitudes of a colour; Discolouration - Dis(Absence of) Colouration;
Some classically defined colour are not strictly colours but colourations and discolourations.
As a single pure wavelength represents one colour (Red in this instance).
darker red is a discolouration of red whilst a bright red is a colouration of the colour red.
A multitude of wavelengths that collocates is colouration where as weakening the frequency or altering the frequency of a waveform is a discolouration.
Let's suppose the frequency is consistent with visible Yellow, adding a fraction of the Red frequency would create a colouration known as orange.
In this instance orange is not a colour, but colours because it is 2 colours mixed to form a colouration.
White is a colouration, a colours or a mix of colour and not a colour, white cannot be defined as a discolouration because it contains maximum values of multiple wavelengths.
Labeling white as a colour is the logical equivalent of labeling a 'book' as a 'page'.
Black on the other hand is a discolouration of all colours, it is not a colour or a colouration as there are no single or multiple wavelengths visible, it is also not a discolouration of a single colour as black is a balance of all colours in a state of full discoloration, it is literally the absence of colour.
Labeling black as a colour is the logical equivalent of calling atheism a religion.
In short, due to vagueness people have somehow managed to turn an objective scientific explanation of poly colouration into a paradoxical state where a discolouration is a colour and a juxtaposition of many colours is a colour and an absence of any colour is a colour... This is highly irregular and completely illogical.
—Preceding unsigned comment added by 86.11.153.79 (talk) 16:29, 9 July 2010 (UTC)
Your definitions of "color" and "coloration" are idiosyncratic and not especially useful. "Coloration" is not a word which has a precise technical definition, and so using it with a narrow unexpected meaning is a bad idea for an article in Wikipedia, and "color" is a word with a precise technical definition, so using it to mean something different than that would be quite confusing. When you say "objective scientific explanation of poly-coloration", I have no idea what you’re talking about, and when you say “juxtaposition of many colors” you should be precise: do you mean spatially juxtaposed, or do you mean the additive mixture of lights with different spectral power distributions? In the former case, the way in which perception is affected by complex contrast effects, and depends on the scale of the color patches involved. In the latter case, the result is a light which certainly also has a "color".
I think you are perhaps confusing the term "color" with the more specific notion of a "chromatic color". The latter does indeed imply a color with a discernible hue (while an "achromatic color" would be white, gray, or black).
If you have any questions, I can suggest some resources which might help you understand better what color is and how it works. –jacobolus (t) 18:26, 9 July 2010 (UTC)
Part of the problem is of course that Wikipedia’s articles about color topics are disorganized, often vague and incomplete, and sometimes wrong. Hopefully your present confusion doesn’t stem from the unfortunate holes in Wikipedia’s coverage. –jacobolus (t) 18:33, 9 July 2010 (UTC)
Notes: 'Bad' is a worthless value; Colour is an ascription not a description; You saying that the comments are idiosyncratic is an ad-hominem against the validity of them and have no value in this discussion.
Colouration is the "state of being coloured", Colour is an ASCRIPTIVE VALUE and therefore is only worth something to human beings.
The frequencies which colouration is based on are DESCRIPTIVE as they describe objectively what is actually there. But what would a qualified graphics and multimedia designer know about colour theory. Oh wait that's right, Surgepedia where the surgeon is told to go away.
So let me clarify this in a way you can understand.
http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/view/entry/m_en_gb0163610#m_en_gb0163610
Colouration actually has a VERY SPECIFIC definition as it is the state of being COLOURED. The number of colours used to produce the resultant is what gives an object it's colouration. Colouration is the state of adding more than one frequency of light to another to produce a colouration.
Darkening a frequency which creates a classically defined colour is a discolouration.
This means that grey is a colouration in a state of discolouration, (All colours moxed and then the frequencies restricted.
Considering the reality of light being frequencies interacting with each other it is testable and verifiable, arguing semantics wont change the facts, last I checked this wasn't an idiosyncrasy but a well established scientific fact.
I reiterate, naming White as a colour is the same as calling a book a page as white is a colouration or a colours. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 86.11.153.79 (talk) 19:44, 10 July 2010 (UTC)
Ad hominem refers to attacking a person rather than his statements or arguments. Ignoring that “ad hominem“ is an adjective (or sometimes a noun) and not a verb, I don’t understand how my statement that your definitions are confusing can be interpreted as a personal attack. I hope I have not implied any attack on your reputation, or in any way been unfriendly or unfair. Disputing your claim that “coloration” is a technical term, and suggesting that its use in a technical context is idiosyncratic was not intended as an insult.
“Coloration” is indeed a word in English, and as such has a dictionary definition. I don’t disagree with that. I maintain, however, that while it has a (vague and multifaceted) definition, it has no precise technical definition, and your usage of the term is not typical in precise/scientific discussions of color and related subjects, and is likely therefore to confuse rather than communicate (for example, “colouration in a state of discolouration” is an extremely confusing construction).
“Colour is an ascription not a description” – what does this mean?
I can’t interpret “The number of colours used to produce the resultant is what gives an object it's [sic] colouration.” How do you “count” colors? What is a “resultant”?
I don’t know what you mean when you say “Darkening a frequency which creates a classically defined colour is a discolouration”. How does one darken a frequency?
When you describe the “reality of light being frequencies interacting with each other”, what do you mean? In general, different frequencies are completely independent, making the completely general description of a light stimulus into an infinite dimensional Hilbert space. The exception to this is fluorescence.
Anyway, it might be best to consolidate further discussion on the page talk:black, so that other editors can easily follow it. –jacobolus (t) 00:44, 11 July 2010 (UTC)

Off-white[edit]

I'm sure that off-white is not a scientific name for a color; however, I came here looking to find it. I can tell from the previous discussions here that people want to be scientific and not have this article contain misleading information. However, off-white is in such common use (at least in the U.S.) that I feel it deserves at least a mention here, about what it is and how it relates to "White". It definitely would not merit its own article, and White would seem to be the closest place for it, maybe under a section whose title indicates it is not "scientific" somehow? Thanks for considering it.Fallendarling (talk) 01:26, 1 August 2010 (UTC)

There’s not really any one “off-white”, is there? Can off-white be bluish? Reddish? Do you have any reliable sources talking about off-white? –jacobolus (t) 03:16, 1 August 2010 (UTC)

Stellar class[edit]

The bit about stellar class and white dwarfs appears grammatically and factually broken. I had to go back to http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=White&oldid=315610470 to see that it appears to have been moved/merged from two previous statements, separately about stellar class A stars and white dwarfs. Even then I'm not convinced by the original explanations.

[Stellar classification] seems to suggest that class A is named by convention alone, related mostly to ionic absorption lines, and not due to their blackbody colour temperature under which they would be considered more towards the blue. ("True white", if it means anything, being related to our own sun's colour temperature which as a class G star is rather cooler.)

[White dwarf] doesn't say why the name was chosen but over time as they cool they fade through a range of colour temperatures. (Maybe as purer blackbody sources than most stars they can be in some sense "white whatever the colour"?)

So this paragraph, while it may have value in some form somewhere in the article, basically boils down to a (short) list of things which happen to have been given the name "white" in the middle of a technical discussion of colour temperature. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 212.44.43.80 (talk) 16:01, 7 September 2011 (UTC)


White is not a colour[edit]

Why does the first sentence say "White is a color" (or, as one would say on my side of the Atlantic, "white is a colour")? Surely white is the absence of all colours (in the case of paints) or the presence of all colours (in the case of lights) and is therefore not a true colour). ACEOREVIVED (talk) 16:56, 1 November 2011 (UTC)

Please see the discussion here. As you will see "white" is not generally defined as you do, and "true colour" is not a term that has any technical meaning. But if you have suggestions for a revised intro to the article you are more than welcome to post it here.--Thorseth (talk) 10:00, 2 November 2011 (UTC)

Light colours[edit]

Is there any accepted definition of the colour region in e.g. the CIE 1931 colour space which is considered white of belonging to an illuminant? In particular, is there a lower and upper limit to the colour temperature outside which the light is no longer called white? For example, almost everyone would agree that sunlight can be called white. Opionions differ about the light of a light bulb − most manufacturers call it "warm white" (which is actually wrong since it is a quite low colour temperature and just the human experience with open fire and similar articifial light sources causes the relation of red to yellow tones as "warm" colours) while many people actually perceive it as something like a pale orange (which it acutally is if displayed in standard RGB with whitepoint D65). Glowing coals at 1000 K are nowhere called "white". Similarly, the blue sky is also quite close to the Planckian locus, but at colour temperatures up to 30000 K. No one would call this white. So, are there any accepted limits and references to these limits?--SiriusB (talk) 11:51, 29 June 2012 (UTC)

In the CIE Color rendering index the recomendation of what should be called white light is given to be: Light with a chromaticity difference less than 5.4x10^-3 in the CIE 1960 color diagram, between the light and the reference light (Blackbody and Daylight) of the same color temperature. In this definition there is (as far as I remember) no limit on the color temperature of the light. The perception of white light is highly adaptive so in some cases people will experience light as white even though it is very far from what is normally perceived as white.--Thorseth (talk) 07:09, 1 July 2012 (UTC)
As Thorseth said, what looks white or not depends so much on adaptation. I’m not sure having an absolute limit on the definition would be especially helpful. As for “warm”, the “warmth” of lighting has nothing to do with color temperature; calling it “warm” is just a convention, not “actually wrong”. –jacobolus (t) 08:08, 1 July 2012 (UTC)
Hmm, this cannot be true since the light of red glowing ember is doubtlessly far from being white, and the same is true for deep blue skylight. Both are pretty close to the Planckian locus (I can retrieve links to optical science papers if you want). And chromatic adaption is not chromatic adaption, but instead there are at least two different meanings. One meaning of it is that you are still able to (at least approximately) recognize surface colors (e.g. recognize the colors on a photograph or of fruit) even under strongly tinted light colors, as long as the spectrum is continuous. This is the meaning of color rendition. However, the second meaning is that you can still recognize the ambient light color if you look at a definitively white surface (e.g. printer paper). Only within a narrow CCT range a complete white balance (i.e. any color tint vanishes) is possible. I read (on the web) something about 5000-5500 K as the ideal white regime under intermediate light levels. From my own experience, I can tell that, at typical home lighting conditions, color temperatures below about 3500-4000 K never appear perfectly white, as well es CCTs considerable above 5000 K. In other words: Incandescent and even halogen bulbs never produce white light (the orange tint attenuates a bit after an hour or so, towards a slight yellowish tint, but never vanishes completely). At daylight illuminance levels, even the 5500 K of the noon Sun (if viewed on a white or neutral grey surface) appears slightly yellow. Even the lighting industry doesn't call the low-CCT lights as "white". The term "warm white" already denotes that this light has a slight but visible orange-yellow tint, in contrast to "neutral white" or simply "white". A third meaning may be that only near-Planckian light colors appear as "natural", despite a residual blueish ("cool") or yellowish ("warm") tint even after hours of exposure. Therefore there must be some limits within a kind of "true white" is defined. Otherwise the definition of "white" as a neutral light color cannot be taken seriously.--SiriusB (talk) 09:17, 2 July 2012 (UTC)
I am afraid that what you think can and cannot be true, is not a good enough reason to include or exclude something on wikipedia. If you can produce a reliable source for a definition of white (other then the one from Wyszecki & Stiles) then you are most welcome to put it in. Actually, I myself, would be very interested if you have some references for the issues you mention. In my personal opinion the perception of white is highly subjective and any definition will therefore have to include the vagueness of subjectivity. --Thorseth (talk) 09:38, 5 July 2012 (UTC)
One possible hint could be the selection of white points for graphical displays. As far as I know there is no standard whitepoint outside about 5000 K (D50) and 7500 K (D75). I only know of one prominent exception at the blue end, the 9300 K for some CRT displays, which, as fas as I know is, also no longer used for standard. But you won't find any computer display of TV set which uses 2700 K or 10000 K as whitepoint (although the D-illuminants are defined up to 25000 K). See also Standard illuminant#White_points_of_standard_illuminants, which also includes some obsolete white points. In addition, all relevant RGB color spaces use whitepoints with CCTs between 5000 (D50) and 6800 K (C).--SiriusB (talk) 09:23, 6 July 2012 (UTC)
@jacobolus (in addition to my previous comment): What kind of "convention" lies behind the "warmth" of light? Is there any scientific article about the "felt temperature" of light, or is it, as I would suppose, just marketing? Whether light appears warm or cold is not strictly related to color temperature; there are people (like me, but also many people in southern countries or Asia) to whom low-CCT-light (including that from incandescent lamps or candles) doesn't appear warm, but rather dull/gloomy and uncomfortable. Maybe the majority does associate it with warmth, and so the lighting industry simply labels it as "warm white". But without any scientific justification I won't call it a convention (at least not a binding one), because it is opposite to physical facts. But anyway, it remains that terms like "warm" describe a visible colour tint which already contradicts the word "white", which, to natural understanding, means the absence of any visible colour (in other words, a successfull white balance of our visual system).--SiriusB (talk) 07:35, 17 July 2012 (UTC)

Hueless color how so?[edit]

If the Hue is the main property of a color and white is without hue then how is it considered a color. As much as light produces the color spectrum we can precieve, and the brightest bright of a color is a extreme light of that color. More importantly if the general idea proposed is that white and black are composed of all and absent of all color, then how is white a color? Maybe another term should be used for white and black that can truly define what they are in the color spectrum. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 12.4.116.14 (talk) 14:56, 27 July 2012 (UTC)

I don't think you can say that hue is the main property of color, so I don't see the problem there. What you call brightest of bright is what I think is normally referred to as a saturated color. The idea that white is a mixture of all colors is a misconception, and the same for black really. But this does seem to have disappeared from the lead section at least.--Thorseth (talk) 08:56, 10 January 2013 (UTC)

Orphaned references in White[edit]

I check pages listed in Category:Pages with incorrect ref formatting to try to fix reference errors. One of the things I do is look for content for orphaned references in wikilinked articles. I have found content for some of White's orphans, the problem is that I found more than one version. I can't determine which (if any) is correct for this article, so I am asking for a sentient editor to look it over and copy the correct ref content into this article.

Reference named "osln":

I apologize if any of the above are effectively identical; I am just a simple computer program, so I can't determine whether minor differences are significant or not. AnomieBOT 23:06, 8 November 2012 (UTC)

What happened to the lead section?[edit]

I can understand the need for a more readable and less technical approach, but to me it now reads like a garbled children's book. The sentence on the visible spectrum is just a general misconception, which is demonstrably false, see White#Optics. As I understand the English language, white is NOT the color of pure snow or milk, rather it is almost the opposite: Pure snow is considered to HAVE a white color. I find it very hard to believe that the section is supported by the references given. I will start revising this as soon as I get the time, can anyone explain what happened? --Thorseth (talk) 10:13, 8 January 2013 (UTC)

I put back the first sentence about milk and snow, which had been deleted, to match the opening sentences of the articles on red, blue, green, and the other colors, which all use common objects. The milk and snow comparison is from the Oxford English dictionary, which also says "having all the wavelengths of visible light without absorption, being fully luminous and devoid of any hue."

The Websters New World Dictionary defines white as "having the color of pure snow or milk, of the color of radiated, transmitted or reflected light containing all of the visible rays of the spectrum. opposite to black" the Random House College dictionary uses "of the color of pure snow, of the margins of this page, etc, reflecting nearly all the rays of sunlight or a similar light." Random House and Websters probably took the milk and snow comparison from the OED.

What's a better way to say it? How about "Milk and pure snow both have a white color. White contains all the wavelengths of visible light without absorption, is fully luminous and does not have any hue." This isn't very comprehensible to non-specialists, but it's more accurate. Your advice? SiefkinDR (talk) 14:57, 8 January 2013 (UTC)

I have now tried to better the lead, a little. I have kept the familiar objects and removed the most glaring mistakes. I'm still astounded that a serious dictionary would include, what is basically a false public conception. I replaced that with a reference from a book on color science.--Thorseth (talk) 09:52, 13 March 2013 (UTC)
I see you reverted my edits to the lead, for being to technical. Instead the previous false information has been reinstated. I find this to be a mistake. If you look at Wikipedia:Wikipedia_is_not_a_dictionary#Major_differences you will perhaps see that using a dictionary as the main source is not necessarily a good approach. This article should not about how people use the word "white", but about what it is, defined in a meaningful way. I find that the the current text is not meaningful, but nonsense. My advice would be to remove the "white is all colors"-mistake and remove or completely rewrite the sentence on black as "opposite to white". And find a source that treats colors and words.--Thorseth (talk) 12:33, 13 March 2013 (UTC)

The first paragraph has to be clear and comprehensible to non-specialists, and free of jargon. The Oxford English Dictionary is generally considered a pretty reliable and standard source. Here's their full definition: "of the colour of fresh milk or snow; having that colour produced by reflection, transmission, or emission of all wavelengths of visible light without absorption. being fully luminous and devoid of any hue." − − The Petit Larousse, the French equivalent of the OED, says: (my translation), "of the color of snow, of milk. Light resulting from the combination of all the colors of the solar spectrum."

What is false about these definitions? I'm glad to re-write the lead to correct a mistake. However, I think a more detailed discussion of optics belongs in the section on that subject. Most of this article is devoted to the cultural history and uses of the color white. Please see the other color articles. − SiefkinDR (talk) 12:43, 13 March 2013 (UTC)

Yes, the definition is partly correct when it comes objects illuminated by daylight or incandescents, but is for instance not true for computer displays or Compact fluorescent lamps. Also some of the important words and meanings seem to have disappeared in the wiki version, and luminous changed to brightness altogether. I'm all for using layman's terms, but I don't think false ideas should be promoted, to gain simplicity. To me, referring to "objects" or "lightness" is no more jargon than "wavelengths" or "hue". I am not thrilled about the wording in the other color articles either. In my view colors are much more interesting and complex subjects then these leads seem to indicate, to me it seem like writing what any English speaking person would already know. Nobody would dream of a lead to Elephant that read "The elephant is a big gray animal with big ears and a long trunk" and then leave the rest to appropriate sections. To avoid an edit war I propose that we put a test lead here on the talk page and then work on it together. --Thorseth (talk) 15:20, 13 March 2013 (UTC)

True white[edit]

What we consider white is the spectrum that the sun emits. But that is a black body spectrum, and contains more green than red, and more red than blue. That means that white light does not have equal power in all frequencies the way white noise does. The article doesn't mention the role of the sun in our definition of white at all, even though it is quite a crucial role, since our visual system has evolved to match its spectrum. So what does true white, where all frequencies have equal power, actually look like? I imagine that it would be a slightly purplish blue (with red and especially blue overrepresented relative to sunlight). Could more information about this be added to the article? I haven't been able to find any sources about "true" white, and I'm not even sure what the scientific term is for it. CodeCat (talk) 00:32, 22 April 2013 (UTC)

The intro of the article has been made into a sort of dictionary definition, which is unrelated to any modern scientific understanding of what white is (See the discussion in the section above). I don't have the energy to force a correct version through, but if you look at White#Science there is still some correct information left. Also Color rendering index contains a standardized recommendation for a definition of white light --Thorseth (talk) 20:40, 22 April 2013 (UTC)

Again[edit]

You just deleted everything I add, eh? I am not going to make you any difficulties because this isn’t an article I care much for but think this is a case of Wikipedia:Ownership of articles. But you just not appreciated the stuff you didn’t chose yourself. Sure, you are going to tell me that the dog was not white enough, the opal was not clear enough or whatever, and there is always an answer. Believing that an article has an owner of this sort is a common mistake people make on Wikipedia. Once you have posted it to Wikipedia, you cannot stop anyone from editing text you have written. As each edit page clearly states: Work submitted to Wikipedia can be edited, used, and redistributed—by anyone. Hafspajen (talk) 16:32, 14 May 2013 (UTC)

Dear Hafspajen: Thanks for your comment. There are a couple of reasons why this was deleted. First and most important, space; this section is comparable to sections in the colors red, blue, green, yellow, etc; and is designed to show the best-known variants of the color (in the case, alabaster, ivory) and some iconic examples of white (milk, snow, polar bear, White Cliffs of Dover). It's not meant to be an extensive list of everything that's white, there's not enough room for that. I thought a polar bear was a better example than the poodle, since a polar bear is always white, and is famous for its color. As to the opal, it doesn't appear white in the image provided, and I don't see it described as white in the article on opals. It might make sense to have a section on white minerals, however, if you can find an image that would fit. SiefkinDR (talk) 10:28, 15 May 2013 (UTC)


Dear SiefkinDR, my problem is that there is plenty of space. The galleries are extremely uneven. The rows are not complete. looks just , well unplesant to me. Hafspajen (talk) 02:27, 19 November 2013 (UTC)

I think the optics section should come before the section about History & art[edit]

White is, first and foremost, a physical and biological phenomenon. Its position in human culture is then derived from this. The optics section was previously the first section to follow the etymology section (which is generally always first, according to Wikipedia convention), until approximately the November of 2012, when it was unilaterally decided that White's history and art would come earlier in the article (and this happened to other color articles at approximately the same time). Whilst the history and art of a color is relevant and interesting, it definitely is not more important than a detailed explanation about the science that actually constitutes the color. This extends to all color articles that are now in this format, which I would like to see reverted to the more logical format.


I would like to link to the articles ink, Primary color, Color, all of which put the science first and the history afterwards.

Nickc8 (talk) 12:21, 19 May 2013 (UTC)Nickc8

Respectfully, I disagree. I think the history and culture of a color is just as important as the science, and is the main reason why people read the color articles. I vote for keeping the current organisation of the article. SiefkinDR (talk) 16:09, 19 May 2013 (UTC)

Optics and more[edit]

I just encountered this article today, and I'm unhappy to see that the Optics section, along with some other things in the article, is totally bogus. The definition of white is incorrect -- it can be defined either as a perceptual quality, or as a property of a surface, but it is incorrect to define it as a property of a light source or light spectrum. A white object will be white whether it is viewed by sunlight, incandescent light, fluorescent light, etc -- each of which gives rise to a different emission spectrum. I'm bringing this up here because I'm not sure I'll be able to put in the effort to fix the article, especially with proper references. Looie496 (talk) 18:53, 24 October 2013 (UTC)

Why can a light source not emit white light? CodeCat (talk) 20:22, 24 October 2013 (UTC)
There's really no such thing as white light. Every light source except a laser is a mixture of spectral components, and it is arbitrary to define any particular mixture as "white". Sometimes people think that it is possible to define white as the spectrum of the Sun, but the concept of whiteness obtained by doing that does not have any practical value. Under any sort of artificial lighting, or even under filtered sunlight, an object emitting that spectrum will not look white. Looie496 (talk) 16:08, 27 October 2013 (UTC)
To enlarge on that a bit, color is really a property of a surface, not of a light source. A surface is white if the light that it reflects has the same spectral composition as the light that strikes it. Our visual system works very hard to compensate for lighting in order to allow us to perceive the true color of a surface -- the color constancy article gives a (not very good) overview of the process. A light source will of course have a perceived color, but the rules that govern the perceived color are rather complex, except in very simple situations such as a pure light source against a pure black background. Looie496 (talk) 16:22, 27 October 2013 (UTC)

Keep the image of the white horse[edit]

Most of this article concerns the history, culture and associations of the color white, and the white horse is a perfect example to illustrate the article. (See image of space at the top of the article on black for another example, or the image of water in the article on cyan.) The grid of different colors that had been put in place of the white horse was misleading; in fact only one color on the grid was white; the others were shades of different colors. Putting a white square against a white page is more accurate, but dull and doesn't convey any information about the meaning of white. For these reasons, I believe we should keep the image of the white horse, which very clearly represents the symbolism and cultural meaning of white. SiefkinDR (talk) 08:26, 27 October 2013 (UTC)

Montage of white[edit]

Please see the montage of white now at the top of the page, as a proposed substitute for a white icon. This is an attempt to present the various aspects of white, in art, nature, biology, and culture in a single montage. Please let me know what you think. SiefkinDR (talk) 12:01, 18 November 2013 (UTC)

Well, it works. It would probably be better to build this into a single montage-image rather than using a gallery that takes up so much screen space, though. Looie496 (talk) 16:20, 18 November 2013 (UTC)

I agree, a single montage-image would be better; I just don't know how to make one. SiefkinDR (talk) 16:59, 18 November 2013 (UTC)

I could do it pretty easily using GIMP, but I wouldn't like to do it more than once, so it would be nice to have consensus on the components and arrangement first. Looie496 (talk) 18:05, 18 November 2013 (UTC)

That sounds like a good plan. I think the image be smaller, and represent the major aspects and uses of white; nature, culture, religion, art and architecture. Images in the montage should also be found in the article, with captions. Some examples of other montages are found in the articles on New York and Marseille. SiefkinDR (talk) 10:11, 22 November 2013 (UTC)

Other good examples of montages are found in the articles on Paris, London and New York City SiefkinDR (talk) 10:17, 22 November 2013 (UTC)

As you mention, there are indeed "good examples of montages". Please follow that format/layout and do not carry out your experiments on the article page. --Technopat (talk) 10:48, 22 November 2013 (UTC)

Will do that, but please put the montage back, or let me do so, so people can see what is proposed and can make suggestions and and comments. SiefkinDR (talk) 12:47, 22 November 2013 (UTC)

As for the formalities of the montage, if you just want other editors to see what images you want to include in same, and without violating WP:MOS layout guidelines, we "can see what is proposed" by reviewing your edit (View history, above) and/or if you're not sure as to the technical aspects of the montage you can create your own sandbox (User:username/sandbox) where you can experiment until you get it right.
On the other hand, infoboxes for other colours (blue, green, etc.) have a seemingly standard format, with "spectral coordinates", so I don't see why this one should be any different, but that's just my opinion. It could be argued that white and black require a more "imaginative" approach, but am not so sure. Regards, --Technopat (talk) 09:29, 24 November 2013 (UTC)

The articles on the main colors have images that show the different shades, although I'm not sure how useful those are, since they have no explanations or captions, and most of shades shown don't match the information given in the infoboxes. The great majority of the content of the color articles is not about the optics but about the symbolism of the colors and their occurrence and use in art, biology, history, politics, botany, etc. I think black and white should have a different kind of image, since neither by definition has any shades, and since everyone has a pretty good idea what they look like. The black article has a picture of outer space taken from Mars, which I think is more interesting than a plain black square, and its the most read of all the color articles by a wide margin. I think the white article should also have something more interesting than a plain white square on a white page and something that suggests that range of uses and and importance of white in science, culture, history and art SiefkinDR (talk) 18:52, 24 November 2013 (UTC)

Proposed photomontage for the lead article (II)[edit]

The talented folks at the Wikipedia Graphics Lab put together the photomontage below as a possible lead image for the article.

Polar bear with young - ANWR.jpg Andalusian.jpg Delphinapterus leucas 2.jpg
White sand on Berneray - geograph.org.uk - 684958.jpg Pope Francis in March 2013 b.jpg LhotseMountain.jos.500pix.jpg
Wedding Kimono.jpg Taj Mahal 2002.JPG Milk glass.jpg


Each of these images is clickable. It represent some of the varieties of white that exist in nature, culture, and art, which are explained in the article. I am hoping that it can be made into a single image, so it can be moved around more easily. Comments and suggestions are welcome. SiefkinDR (talk) 10:14, 25 November 2013 (UTC)

I have formatted it to the right at the start of the article as the lead image to see what you think. (Hohum @) 17:36, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
Seems fine to me. Looie496 (talk) 17:39, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
I think it looks very good; thank you! SiefkinDR (talk) 09:18, 26 November 2013 (UTC)