“What if, when we talk about the color red, we all see a different color and no one knows?” is grade-A amateur philosophizing that is usually followed by head-scratching. But it is a question that has commanded the serious attention of scientists: How do humans see and understand color? Scientists estimate that the average human can perceive a mil- lion different colors. We have the ability to do so because our eyes have three types of specialized cells—called cones—that are predominantly clustered in a tiny patch on the retina. When wavelengths of light hit the retina, these cones decipher the varying lengths and help translate them into identifiable colors in the visual cortex of the brain. Along the way, our brains factor in numerous variables that could affect This story is from Kinfolk Issue Twenty-Three Buy Now Related Stories Arts & Culture Issue 39 Parental Control Teenagers are now discovering the digital footprint created for them by their parents. Tom Faber considers the dos and don’ts of “sharenting.” Arts & Culture Issue 39 Who’s Laughing Now? Stephanie d’Arc Taylor charts the decline of the late-night comedy format and considers the alternatives. Arts & Culture Issue 36 Known Unknowns How to make no news good news. Arts & Culture Fashion Partnerships Issue 35 Peripheral Visions An abstracted exploration of cloth and color, produced in partnership with HaaT. Arts & Culture Issue 35 Precede Your Reputation How to change a public perception. Arts & Culture Issue 27 Jamieson Webster A conversation with a New York psychoanalyst.