Feeling Blue

What comes to mind when you imagine your favorite color? Any chance it’s blue? With hundreds of surveys conducted across the globe, people dominantly seem to favor the color blue. According to LiveScience.com, 42% of men and 19% of women chose blue as their favorite color, distantly followed by green, preferred by 25% of men and 19% of women. Coincidentally, humanity’s two favorite colors are the ones that most cover planet Earth.

Studies as early as 1941 indicate that bluish hues have been the most preferred. Although “feeling blue” represents sadness, the things that people associate with the color are positive. The ocean, clear skies, and casual blue jeans all provide feelings of comfort. But what exactly makes blue so desirable? Most colors can easily be associated with positive and negative factors. For example, red can identify with roses and strawberries, or blood and wounds. Green can represent trees and kiwi, or snot and vomit. The color blue doesn’t have many obvious negative connotations.

Knowing the enthusiasm around the color blue, you can imagine the excitement for the first new shade in 200 years. It’s known as YInMn Blue, or “Oregon Blue” and “Mas Blue.” It was first discovered in 2009 by chemist Mas Subramanian and his team in an Oregon State University lab and is finally available to consumers. While artists are eager to get their hands on the color, its pricey quantities are still incredibly limited. Interestingly enough, the pigment could help save energy if applied to building exteriors in certain climates.

Although blue seems very relevant to humans, blue pigment is rare in nature. Everyone can appreciate the beauty of a blue flower bloom, right? It turns out that bees love blue too! Among flowers which are pollinated without the intervention of bees and other insects (known as abiotic pollination), none were blue. With the world populations of bees and other insects in decline, urban environments are important habitats for pollinating insects, including bees. In spirit of the color blue (and considering one-third of our food depends on insect pollination) putting blue flowers in our gardens is a potentially important contribution to enabling a sustainable future.

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