“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 19 Going Incognito We all secretly wonder what mischief we’d make if invisible: When our identity is hidden, everything seems possible. Arts & Culture Issue 19 The Best Policy Sometimes we talk to each other without feeling heard. Honesty—a most intimate interaction—can be just as thrilling as its more devious inverse. Arts & Culture Issue 19 A Sense of Suspense With unhinged imaginations and mountains of cliff-hangers, the filmmakers behind the sci-fi podcast Limetown have all the makings of a scary story. Arts & Culture Issue 19 Like Clockwork In this new column about time, we learn how slipping off our watches makes us feel like deadline-damning renegades. Arts & Culture Music Issue 19 On a Grander Scale Malaysian singer-songwriter Yuna now may live on the opposite side of the globe, but she’s determined to evolve while staying true to her roots. Arts & Culture Issue 19 Neighborhood: Fire Stations The firefighting profession has evolved over time from Ancient Rome’s rudimentary bucket brigades to today’s sleek life-saving departments.