Molecules That Produce Colour: Pigments
The reason for colour diversity in
the leaves of flowers is the reaction to light of pigment molecules
present in their structure.
In previous chapters, we mentioned that because of the different atomic
properties of the pigmentary molecules, objects reflect light rays differently;
hence, different shades of colour are produced. Have another look around
you. The different colours in your range of vision indicate the existence
of a similar number of pigments, because the colour of everything we see
in our surroundings depends on the pigments present in the composition
of that matter. The green colour of plants, the colour of skin, the colours
of animals, in short all colours stem from the structural characteristics
of the pigments contained in those objects or living things.
What Is PIgment?
Pigments, existing both in our eyes and in the outer surface of objects,
are special molecules that bring about colour. A certain energy is needed
for pigment molecules to be activated. Certainly, just as in all other
stages in the formation of colour, there is again perfect harmony between
pigments and light. "The invisible light" reaching the earth
has been specially designed for the "pigment" molecules, which
are known as colour molecules, in living things.
Moreover, human eyes also have a structure compatible
to this purpose. The reason why the cone cells that lie in the retina
of our eye perceive three main colours - red, green, and blue - is because
of the special pigment molecules they contain. The most crucial task these
pigments perform so that we see a coloured world is convert the energy
of "colour" in light into nerve impulses. This means that everything
we know as colour is an end-result of these pigments transmitting the
wavelength of light reaching to them to the brain as nerve impulses.11
The energy levels of visible light correspond to some of the energy
levels needed for activating pigment molecules that are found in the skins
of living beings, or in the scales, feathers, or furs covering their skins,
and thus their colours are formed.
As seen, pigments, which are present both in the vision centres and in
the bodies of living beings, are in perfect harmony with other bodily
systems. Absence of a particular kind of pigment molecule or its presence
in an amount less than required in the vision centre of a living being
causes it to be unable to distinguish colours in its environment.
The question is: how do these special molecules develop in the skins
of living beings? We can give an answer to this question by asking some
further questions. Have living beings come to possess these colours by
acknowledging the properties of a special light spectrum reaching the
earth and choosing special pigment molecules accordingly? Certainly the
possibility of the occurrence of such a coincidence is zero. These specific
molecules have been placed in the skin of living beings by conscious design.
It is obvious that neither could living beings carry out such a process,
nor could random coincidence bring about such a formation. The harmony
in question is one, which could only come about because of One Who Wills
creating it, One Who keeps everything under control. Allah has created
each living being with very sophisticated characteristics peculiar to
it. Everything, animate or inanimate, has pigments suitable to it. Pigments
absorb light selectively according to their molecular structure. Every
pigment does not react to light in the same way. For this reason, it cannot
set off the same chemical reaction and form the same colour.
We can give chlorophyll, the pigment molecule
that causes plants to look green, as an example. These pigments absorb
certain wavelengths coming from the sun and reflect light having the wavelength
that corresponds to green colour. Chlorophylls, the pigment molecules
in plants, reflect the photons that look green due to their wavelengths.
At the same time, the energy they receive from sunlight enables the plants
to produce carbohydrates, one of the prime food sources of all living
beings.12 Different pigment molecules reflect particular
colours at certain wavelengths according to their own molecular properties
and hence cause different chemical reactions.
There are many kinds of pigments in nature. A few examples are sufficient
to show that pigment molecules have been specially designed for life.
Examples of PIgment Types ProtectIve
Colour Source: MelanIn
The pigment chlorophyll existing in plants is dominant over other
pigments. Therefore, plants look green.
The eyes of living beings are quite sensitive to light and are easily
affected adversely. Still, we can safely look towards the sun and see
our surroundings, thanks to the support systems Allah specially created.
One of these support systems is a group of pigment molecules present in
As is well known, the colours of living beings'
eyes vary. What give an eye its colours are, again, pigments. Melanin
is one of these pigmentary substances present in the eye that gives the
eye its colour. The same pigment also gives your skin and hair their colours.
However, melanin provides more than colour. Researchers believe that melanin,
which exists in the eye, offers both protection against the deleterious
effects of sunrays, and vision enhancement. The substance melanin, nature's
solution to the problem of hazardous light rays, absorbs higher energy
light more strongly than lower energy light. So, it absorbs ultraviolet
more strongly than blue, and blue more strongly than green.13In
this way, melanin provides protection to the lens of the eye against ultraviolet.
It provides near optimum protection to the retina by filtering different
colours in proportion to their ability to damage the tissue of the retina
- thereby reducing the risks of macular degeneration. People with more
eye-melanin have less occurrence of macular degeneration; people with
less eye-melanin have greater occurrence of macular degeneration. About
15% of our original supply of melanin is lost from the eye by the age
of forty and about 25% is lost by the age of fifty. The role melanin plays
in eye protection is critical: ophthalmologists report that melanin in
the eye reduces the risk of age-related macular degeneration.14
As understood, each one of the functions of the substance melanin
demonstrates to us the special design of this substance.
The answer to the question of how such a perfect substance has come about
is that it is impossible for such a multifunctional substance with such
a perfect structure to have come into being by coincidence. Allah has
created the substance melanin, like all other things in the universe,
in a special way as to serve a beneficial purpose for people.
|Blood contains colourful pigments carrying
oxygen in the body. These colours vary among living beings. For instance,
while the colour of the blood of cuttlefish is light blue or colourless,
the blood pigments of other animals and human beings are red. The
redness of the hen's crest and the redness of most shrimps are caused
by blood pigments.
||The light rays coming from the sun activate the
pigments in the objects and therefore colours form. We may compare
pigment molecules to sieves whose selectivity depends on the size
of their pores. Just as in a sieve, the wavelengths which pigments
select according to their structures - that means colours - vary.
The big red eyes of the frog send warning signals to its predators.
The reptile's eyes seen on the right have a colour that does not
offset the camouflaging of the reptile. The eye of the owl seen
above has a colour exclusive to its kind.
The Source of LIvely Colours
|The sources of the lively colours present in the
beaks of toucans are also pigmentary molecules.
Carotenoids (and lipochromes) are pigmentary molecules, which are synthesised
by plants and which reflect the colours yellow, red and orange. Animals
can obtain these pigments only by feeding on plants.
Poisonous sponges, crinoidea, toxic sea-cucumbers
and some molluscs are either partly or completely yellow, red or orange
in colour as a result of carotenoids, which are also present in the yellow
parts of butterflies' wings and in the beaks of birds. In certain insects,
these are emitted by special glands, which are yellow or red in colour.
Curiously, these compounds are usually pale green or even colourless and
only take on a bright yellow colour in the blood of poisonous insects.
The carotenoids are not only useful as warning coloration; in some insects
they are themselves transformed into poisonous compounds, in which case
they serve a twofold purpose of being both a weapon and a signal.15
By means of this very special system that Allah has created, many living
beings continue to thrive.
Thus far, we have briefly examined only a few types of pigment
existing in nature. The conclusion we have reached in light of this review
is the presence of the perfect design that reveals itself in pigments,
in the atoms forming these pigments and in all the resulting colours.
Allah, the ultimate Owner of this exceptional design, Lord of the worlds,
introduces Himself to us by the unique artistry in the colours He creates
Have they not travelled about the earth and do
they not have hearts to understand with or ears to hear with? It is not
their eyes which are blind but the hearts in their breasts which are blind.
(Surat al-Hajj: 46)
11.Franklyn Branley, Color,
From Rainbows to Lasers, Thomas Y. Crowell Comp., New York, p.23-28
12. Temel Britannica Ansiklopedisi, Vol 7,
15. Marco Ferrari, Colors for Survival, Barnes
and Noble Books, New York, 1992, p.110