|Man knows so much and does so little. - Inventor Buckminster Fuller|
How to Make a Spinning Color Top
Back in the mid 18th century, Munsch and Ignaz Schiffermüller devised an ingenious way of experimenting with additive color mixing. They attached a disk to a top. The disk was colored with different portions of the primary light colors, red, green and blue. As they spun the disk very fast, the colors blended together to form a new color or hue.
A century later, James Clerk Maxwell and Ogden Rood developed a number of color theories using this spinning top.
How the Spinning Color Top Works
The disk is divided into three pie shaped areas. The areas can be any size and are the primary colors, red, green and blue. Spinning the disk creates an illusion of one single, pure hue of a color. The light reflected from the colors is visually mixed together causing the illusion. We can find out what mixture of primary colors is needed to make the hue we see by measuring the proportion of primary colors on the disk.
How to Make a Spinning Colored Top
You can easily make your own spinning top with these simple items. You will need:
Open one of these pdf files and print it. Cut out the colored circle.
Take your pencil and poke it through the center of the circle. It might help to cut the center open with an Exacto type knife.
Tape or glue the pencil in place, leaving enough room below the disk for your hands to spin it.
Spinning Color Optical Illusion
Watch this principle at work in a spinning optical illusion which uses only two colors.
Speed of Light
Additive and Subtractive Colors
CIE 1931 Color Space
Spinning Color Top
Glossary of Color Terms
History of Color Science
Motion After Image
Munsell Color System
Color Optical Illusions
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