If a material is a given color, what color might it become in the dark?

I’m curious about how color works.

When I see that something is red, it’s because the object absorbs all color of the light shining on it and only reflects the red. What happens in the dark? If their is no light shining on it, does the object have no color?

In other words, what is the definition of the word “color”? Is it an existing thing, or only something that occurs as a reaction to light?


The questioner is both scientist and philosopher.

Firstly, materials have a net property that causes them to reflect light of a specific wavelength or multiple wavelengths in specific combinations.

Some materials change reflective properties as their temperatures change. If their reflective properties do not change enough, they will always be the same color in visible light.

In the dark, materials will not change their reflective characteristic unless something else in their make up changes. One aspect that may change is temperature.

In the dark materials tend to cool. Therefore, in the dark some materials will change their reflective properties.

If those materials were to suddenly be lighted, they may warm slowly and therefore change color. If a given material were lighted but not enough to cause warming, it would remain a consistent color.

What other properties might change in the dark and potentially cause a color shift?

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