Posted in chemistry, design and architecture, Illumination

Inventing the 80s

I’m supposed to be unavailable this week, but I saw this and couldn’t help myself:

Take Day-Glo colors. We see them every day on Blaze Orange traffic cones and hunter’s caps, Signal Green sticky notes, and Saturn Yellow highlighter markers. But did you ever stop to think why some pinks look rosy while others are actually hot?

Like most people, author Chris Barton didn’t give Day-Glo colors a second glance until he happened to read an obituary of Robert Switzer, who with his brother Joe turned an interest in magical illusions into an industry — and along the way created hues Nature never dreamed of. The Day-Glo Brothers tells about Joe’s fascination with ultraviolet lamps, which he wanted to use to make objects in his magic shows glow in the dark. Poking around in their father’s drugstore, they found chemicals which they used to create the first fluorescent paint. Then Bob got the idea to make glow-in-the-dark ink for store signs and billboards. It was an accident that some of the paint they developed also glowed in the light. World War II made the brothers rich selling glowing paint for buoys, signal flags and safety jackets. Psychedelic posters and bright green tennis balls came later.

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Beth Kelley is an applied & digital anthropologist with an overall interest in how people engage with and are impacted by their environments and vice versa. This has manifested itself in many ways, by looking at creativity, playful spaces, built environments, and environmental enrichment, sustainability, design research, and integrative and collaborative models of learning such as through play and hands-on learning.