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A Scientist’s Search for Nature’s Rarest Color

By Kai Kupferschmidt

Blue is a rare color. You may look up at the sky in protest, but if you submit your environment to closer scrutiny, you will soon realize that blue occurs very rarely among animals and plants. Since their beginnings, humans have been searching for uniquely blue stones and dyes to transform fabric, porcelain, or paintings. Blue has always had a fascinating quality, as is shown in Kai Kupferschmidt’s quest for a blue flower or the magical blue of a bird’s feather coat. Kupferschmidt succumbed to this fascination as a child, and it has stayed with him ever since. His investigation into the mysteries of this color led him to Japan, a volcanic lake in Oregon, and on to the last few Spix’s macaws in Brandenburg, Germany. Rocks, plants, animals, or the distant view of our planet from the depths of space—they all bear witness to an overwhelming beauty that is reflected in our language and the written word. And it all starts with light and our ability to see.

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Kai Kupferschmidt headshot

Kai Kupferschmidt

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Review quotes
Praise from Germany

“Using anecdotes, reportage fragments and research stories, Kupferschmidt succeeds in explaining the science of blue in an entertaining and vivid manner.”—Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung
“With such dedication and clarity that one is astonished to see what aesthetic pleasure natural science can bring. How does beauty come into the world? As a book.”—Sonntag Kultur
“Poets, painters, psychologists—what fascinates them about the color blue? This book shows it in word and design.”—Die Zeit
“A hymn to the color blue that makes you want to immerse yourself in the world of research, culture, and wonder.”—Deutschlandfunk Kultur
“The book is beautifully equipped, with the blue book cut and a beautiful blue in the cover.”—NDR Kultur, The Mixed Double
“Praise for perhaps the most beautiful color in the world in one of the most beautiful books in recent years.”—ZEIT Wissen
“Kupferschmidt succeeds in presenting facts concisely and with humor.”—Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
“Even if you are not a scientist, you get an uncanny desire to understand such connections.”—Deutschlandfunk Kultur
“Everything you need to know about blue.”—BR Fernsehen
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Publication date
June 08, 2021