Earth Noir

Quick thought: colors, a seemingly fundamental aspect of the Earth, elemental, saturating every micron of the planet in a magnificently complex array (existing even before there were eyes to behold them) evolved over vast expanses of geologic time, from a more visually uniform substratum, in the same way multicellular life evolved out of simpler forms. Way back in the mysterious Hadean eon, the Earth would have appeared essentially colorless, or more specifically grey. Browns, yellows, oranges, and reds are all results of the oxidization of iron. At this time the iron which had not sunk toward the core was mostly dissolved in water and the atmosphere was not yet oxygen rich. The sky did not yet appear blue and so neither did the proto-oceans. Purples and greens were the result of cyanobacteria converting sunlight to sugars. A process which didn’t begin until a couple billion years later. At this point, chromatically, the Earth would have looked a whole lot like our moon looks today.

09.29. filed under: observations.


Ah, thanks for letting us glance through your own incomparable prism—I now have an amazing, eons-long time-lapse playing from monochrome to color in my mind’s eye!

posted on 09.29 at 01:59 PMLori Witzel


For a second there I thought you wrote ‘pitiless mangos,’ which is somehow shocking.

posted on 09.29 at 07:18 PM.

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