In 2009, Dr. Mas Subramanian at Oregon State University was exploring the electronic properties of manganese oxides, and after heating a sample to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, it turned an intense blue. The pigment is stable and lightfast. During my brief experience with watercolor, I read warnings about colors that fade quickly, called fugitive colors, as if they flee the painting. Leave posters on a bulletin board in the sun long enough, and some will become pale echoes. Once I took overlapping posters down, and the part hidden underneath was preserved, and a surprise, because I didn’t notice it happening slowly.
By 2011, the OSU lab had found ways to make other colors, including orange, enhanced by adding iron. I look at the blue and the orange, and on the surface I don’t see their kinship, but underneath they are crystalline siblings. Chemistry discovers the soul of the material world, and an object lesson in small changes making transformative differences like blue into orange.
More Orange Goodness on my Orange Tuesdays Pinterest Board.