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Fragments of a Lighter Blue submitted 2009.04.11 12:09 AM by CATAL viewed 1536 times

In 1739, the Scottish philosopher David Hume theorized that were a person to be exposed to all shades of the color blue, save one, that the individual would be fully capable of filling in the blank with the appropriate shade through sheer mental ingenuity and would be capable of expressing that color as a coherent idea. In 2009 this theory was put to the test.

An elitist group of intellectuals known as The Philosophers has dedicated itself to the pursuit of answering some of the most fundamental questions confronting human existence ranging from morality to metaphysics to epistemology. Founded in Italy in the year 1359 by early Renaissance scholars such as Francesco Petrarch and Leontius Pilatus, The Philosophers have maintained their secrecy over the centuries and recruit the brightest and most gifted minds the world has to offer. Members over the years have included Leonardo da Vinci, Isaac Newton, Friedrich Nietzsche, Desiderius Erasmus, James Joyce, and François-Marie Arouet.

In 1987 a project went underway to test Hume's theory of the missing shade of blue. Two individuals were chosen, one male and one female, who represented the most average characteristics of people in the world. They were recruited and paid to give birth to a child who would be born under the strictest of measures in order to secure that the experiment would not be tainted by unwanted variables.

The child was born on February 24th, 1989 into total darkness. The doctors who delivered the baby wore infrared visors. These measures were taken in order that boy (the child was male) would not be exposed to any colors other than the ones presented by The Philosophers. The child was immediately taken to a "clean room" and was presented only with shades of black and white for the first 30 days.

Slowly the child began to be exposed to a variety of colors of different hues and shades, which were subsequently recorded as well as the child's reactions. The boy's brainwaves were also under constant surveillance as was his pulse, heart rate, internal body temperature, perspiration, pupil dilation, and blood pressure. Other than that, the child was provided for in order to stimulate the "average" human experience. Various scientists played the roles of mother and father, siblings, friends, girlfriends, teachers, et cetera. Never was the child led to believe that he lived anything but an ordinary life. Exposure to the outside world was severely limited, specifically he was denied access to a particular shade of blue, that of the sky.

The boy, who was named William (often referred to as "Billy Blue" or "Boy Blue"), went through carefully planned life experiences including a first kiss, first girlfriend, first break-up, competing in sports, going to "school" and graduating, losing his virginity, et cetera, et cetera.

As Billy grew older and the experiment progressed he was introduced to the work of David Hume and was presented with his theory of The Missing Shade of Blue. His response and thoughts on the matter were very carefully studied and recorded. Not knowing the unique background of his entire life, Billy of course had never thought that he had not been exposed to the complete variety of shades of blue. He then thought it perfectly logical for a person to fill in the blank as it were.

Throughout his entire life though, Billy had been carefully presented with the entirety of shades of blue (save the one) at different times and his reacts were recorded. Likewise he was presented with the complete array of shades of red, green, yellow, orange, purple, and many other colors.

After his conjecture considering Hume's Missing Shade of Blue, his teacher presented him with a six swatches of shades of blue ranging right on either side of the missing shade of sky blue. He was asked to place them in order from lightest to darkest and asked if anything seemed amiss. He placed them in the correct order, given that one was missing. He was then given seven swatches of shades of red corresponding to the shades of blue, except with the corresponding shade of red to that of sky blue. He was asked to place them in the same order and asked again if anything seemed amiss.

He replied merely that there was one more red swatch than blue swatches. When asked again in specific reference to the shades and range of the swatches he was struck speechless. He paused and looked at the swatches, seemingly in deep concentration. He pulled three swatches of blue on either side away with his hands leaving a blank space where the Missing Shade of Blue belonged.

"There's one missing," was all he said. These would be the last words Billy Blue would ever speak.

You see, this classroom was part of a bunker and had no windows. Billy had never been outside and in fact had no idea what "outside" even meant. This particular room was at the top of the bunker and was situated in the middle of an open field and on that particular day the sky was clear and a shade of perfect sky blue.

After he announced that one shade was missing, Billy was led by the hand to a door and encouraged to open it and walk through. The result can only be described as a complete mental breakdown. Upon opening the door surveillance suggests a sense of disconcert yet he walked through and was completely taken aback. Not only was this his first experience "outside" (which most likely resulted with an incredible sense of agoraphobia), but there in front of his eyes was an endless field of sky, the Missing Shade of Blue.

His eyes widened, pupils dilated, heart rate jumped to 200 BPM, his face flushed as goose pimples struck up all over his arms and legs, his body went rigid, and his mouth opened in a mask of absolute terror and awe as he appeared to be attempting to scream, only no sound came out. Thereafter he immediately fainted and went into a comatose state. Upon regaining consciousness, no reaction was given by Billy Blue. He would not move, speak, look around, or do anything but the natural functions of his body such as blinking and breathing. No voluntary action was ever produced by him again. He lives in a hospital run and funded by The Philosophers and the answer to Hume's theory remains ambiguous.

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