The value of Not

“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.” ― John Steinbeck

There are, of course, true opposites in this Universe, such as the colors blue and orange. If you have an issue with the concept of opposing colors, I have this little experiment for you. you can actually do this one

Go ahead! This experiment really is safe… I promise!

… just, you know, have the phone handy, where you can grab it even if you can’t see…

Gray Panel

Don’t Scroll Past This Yet!

Just stare at the neutral gray for a moment or two… or, count to 15…
Then scroll down until the next panel is in the middle of your screen.
Stare at the black dot in the middle of the blue panel for 20 seconds.

Blue Panel

After 20 seconds, close your eyes. and let the latent image fade in.
What did you see?
If you did the experiment right, and you have normal neurological function, an orange box should have faded into view behind your eyelids.

One of the key elements of scientific discovery is verification.

So scroll down to the gray panel, and stare at that for a bit, to “reset” your eyes…


Gray Panel

If you close your eyes after staring at this gray panel for 15 seconds, you should see… a gray panel… oddly enough, the opposite of “blank” is “more blank”.
Now scroll down to the Orange panel and stare at the dot in the middle for 20 seconds, then close your eyes again.


Orange Panel

Did you see a blue square fade into view?

“OK, blue turned orange, and orange turned blue. How does that prove they’re opposites?”

Well, I’ve explained how neural-sensory functionality works before, in my Seriously? blog. Go back and read that post; I’ll wait…

Oh shucks… here I am, talking as if the Zombie Apocalypse of 2012 never happened.

Alright, because my old blog was destroyed during ZA 2012, I’ll go over it here, one more time.

Stop being so negative!

You are constantly experiencing sensory input. But neurons kinda work like switches, on or off. So when blue hits your optic nerve, the “blue switch” gets turned on, and that signal goes to your brain. But now the switch is set, what happens if the scene changes and the blue signal stays on? I can tell you this much; you’ll learn to hate the color blue…

Clearly, you need a mechanism to turn the switch back off after your brain has gotten the signal, no? Yes. So what happens is, as soon as your brain gets the blue impulse from your optic nerve, it sends the opposite chemical signal back down to your eyes to reset your nerves. When you close your eyes, there is no new information coming in to override the reset, so the reset signal actually gets reprocessed as a new visual input. But even that receives a reset, and the opposite image slowly fades as the chemicals equal out and dissipate. So if blue gets reset by an orange signal, orange must be the opposite of blue, and to verify there are no shenanigans going on, we verified that blue is used to reset an image of orange. The gray panels were simply a way to “cleanse the optic palette”, so to speak. Still a little iffy? Here’s one last proof, and this is kinda neat!
The next image is a negative of a picture of my niece’s face… or is it?

This may finally be the proof we’ve been looking for, of aliens living among us!

No. It’s actually a negative of a picture of my niece’s face.

Thanks, Rhiannon, for putting up with this silliness.

When you finally scroll down to the image, try to locate her nose, stare at that for 20 seconds, then close your eyes.


Negative Nelly

You should have seen a ghostly positive image. If you didn’t, you should have that looked into.

“What’s all this, then?”

All that to prove there are real opposites, just so I can go on about how often what we think of as the opposite of something is really a lack of that thing, not really an opposite at all.

Let’s revisit light. What we perceive as light is just a bunch of ridiculously small dust particles, called photons, hitting our eyes… Sounds painful, and given enough of that “dust”, we perceive brightness that can actually hurt… I mean, for God’s sake, that spotlight just sand-blasted your eyes with a butt-load of micro dust!

Take away some of those photons, and the light is dimmer. Throw even fewer photons, and we begin to think, “It’s getting dark,” because, we’re told, dark is the opposite of light. Then you think, “Do I really want to be around this lunatic after dark?”

Mostly, people answer,


“BFD, dark is the opposite of light.”


Sure, we use the word “dark” to convey the concept, but the physical truth is, there is no opposite of light at all; there’s only less light.

Weird, huh? if that’s a surprise, you must be new here

Is your glass half full, or half empty?

My favorite answer to that question is: “I have a glass!”

Tired clichés aside, once again, there is no opposite of full; there is only “filled less”. In fact, there’s no such thing as emptiness at all! Even the deepest of deep space has photons, electrons, neutrons, muons, carryons those are sur-charged particles… and a whole Florida coastline of other particles zipping around.

Jeff Berkes Space

“Again with the negativity…” – Sgt. Oddball, Kelly’s Heroes

Temperature is another one of those physical characteristics we fool ourselves about. Any form of heat is actually still more invisible particles bouncing around, causing friction–transferring energy to whatever they happen to crash into. So if there are a lot of particles at high speed, we feel hot, fewer particles moving slowly, and we feel… technically, less hot. Cold is another false opposite, and both Fahrenheit and Celsius are ridiculous measures of temperature! Minus degrees? Really? If temperature is motion, how can you have minus degrees? Have the particles suddenly gone into reverse?

BTW – I looked through dozens that’s a lie of versions of that song (there really are a lot of them out there), and this is totally the absolute creepiest version I found. You’re welcome.

So here’s the thing…

The point of all this is simply that, with all the false opposites we’ve created, and the insanely inaccurate temperature scales, there is only one that indicates the true, physical value of temperature, which is to say, it indicates the relative amount of molecular motion, and does not go below zero–no molecular movement at all–and that is called the Kelvin scale.



About wned2012

Creative thinker & lover of laughter.
This entry was posted in Pseudo-Sci, The A to Z Challenge - Not, Things and Stuff. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The value of Not

  1. I have to come back and do these because I tried while eating an egg sandwich and I think messed them up. Every time I closed my eyes I was thinking I needed tobasco sauce.


    • wned2012 says:

      … or, you could just trust that what I told you would happen is right… Personally, I’d come back and do them again…

      I like that you trusted me when I told you to close your eyes… no particular reason…


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