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What Is the Wavelength of Magenta?

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This color wheel shows the visible spectrum of light plus magenta.

This color wheel shows the visible spectrum of light, wrapped around to include the additive color, magenta.

Gringer, public domain This is a linear representation of the visible spectrum of light.

This is a linear representation of the visible spectrum of light, which extends roughly from 400-700 nm wavelength.

Gringer, public domain

Question: What Is the Wavelength of Magenta?

Have you ever tried to find the color magenta on the visible spectrum? You can't do it! There is no wavelength of light that makes magenta. So how do we see it? Here's the answer to the question.

Answer: Why can't you find magenta in the visible spectrum? This is because magenta cannot be emitted as a wavelength of light. Yet magenta exists; you can see it on this color wheel.

Magenta is the complementary color to green, or the color of the afterimage you would see after you stare at a green light. All of the colors of light have complementary colors that exist in the visible spectrum, except for green's complement, magenta. Most of the time your brain averages the wavelengths of light you see in order to come up with a color. For example, if you mix red light and green light, you'll see yellow light. However, if you mix violet light and red light, you see magenta rather than the average wavelength, which would be green. Your brain has come up with a way to bring the ends of the visible spectrum together in a way that makes sense. Pretty cool, don't you think?

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