Palmer made lasting contributions to the development of color science by being the first to propose that there are three different mechanisms in the human eye that account for color vision: “The superficies of the retina is compounded of particles [light sensors] of three different kinds, analogous to the three rays of light; and each of these particles is moved by its own ray” . This statement has proved true in regard to the number of different daylight sensor types, the cones, in the human eye, if not in regard to the claim of three kinds of light. Thirty-five years later, a similar statement was made by the eminent physicist Thomas Young .
Voigt, in his report on Giros von Gentilly, describes him as having stated that color blindness arises if one or two of the three kinds of “particles” in the retina are inactive, a statement found to be valid . In 1786, Palmer provided a hypothesis for the complementary nature of the successive contrast effect by stating that it is due to fatiguing of one or two of the light sensor types, an explanation that continues to be accepted as valid, as does his conjecture that the different kinds of sensor take different times to recover upon exposure to strong light .
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