Sophie Burnham: Questions about blue

Posted: 12/13/2021 17:47:54 PM Modified: 12/13/2021 17:47:19 PM I was fascinated by the article by Katie Koerten, environmental ed...



Posted: 12/13/2021 17:47:54 PM

Modified: 12/13/2021 17:47:19 PM

I was fascinated by the article by Katie Koerten, environmental educator at the Hitchcock Center for the Environment, on the scarcity of blue color in nature. (“It’s not easy to be blue: why is it so rare in nature?”, November 27)

I remember when I was a young girl working at the Smithsonian Institution and one day I brought a broken robin egg no bigger than my fingertip to the curator of ornithology to ask him, ” Why is a robin’s egg blue? He started giving me a long explanation about chemistry and pigments, when I burst into tears.

“No, why is it blue instead of speckled brown or gray or red?” Does the blue make it more recognizable to the mother bird? Why?”

He rocked in his chair and looked at me seriously through his glasses, struck by my question: “God only knows.” We have no idea why.

I left strangely comforted. But my new question these days is, why is the sky (so often) blue? When it’s not white, why is it blue?

Please, Ms. Koerten, can you respond to that in a future report as well?

Sophie burnham

Northampton



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