Counterintuitively, “Bluing” Fabric Doesn’t Turn It Blue, But?

Green
White

Black
Yellow

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The Explanation

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Answer: White
For centuries, people have improved the appearance of their clothing through a process known as bluing, but despite what the name might imply, it doesn’t turn fabric blue. The process does add blue dye to the water, but the end goal is not to turn the fabric as blue as the source material, but to make white fabrics appear a crisper, cleaner, shade of white.
How does adding small amounts of blue dye to a load of whites produce a crisper looking white fabric? White fabrics yellow over time. Add a little blue dye to the mix and, by the magic of complementary color theory in the subtractive model of color perception, the combined blue and yellow tints make the white fabric appear brighter than in its unaltered state.
Today, laundry detergents may include bluing agents but, unlike their historical counterparts that were actual blue dyes, modern bluing agents are actually fluorescing agents designed to bind to white fabric and give the fabric a brighter white appearance. None the less, if you’re so inclined to experiment with traditional bluing methods to brighten your whites, you can do so–old fashioned laundry bluing can still be found alongside modern detergents and fabric softeners.

“Blood Rain”, Described By Multiple Accounts Throughout History Isn’t Tinted With Blood, But?

Volcanic Ash
Algae Spores

Space Dust
Iron Particulate

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The Explanation

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Answer: Algae Spores
Throughout both ancient and recent history there have been reports of “blood rain”, rain that falls with a red tint. Over the centuries, many theories were proposed as to the origin of the rain. Most ancient scholars attributed the appearance of the rain to the gods (though, in Cicero’s defense, he suggested, with some foresight, that the red rain came from an earthly contagion). Well into the Middle Ages, a common belief was that blood rain really was blood and that it was created when the blood washed from battles and other sources (like animal slaughter) contaminated water sources that supplied the clouds. The concept of distillation and evaporation was poorly understood, obviously, as the rain cycle would just leave the water bloodier and not carry the blood up into the sky.
By the 19th century, people were examining the phenomenon a little more scientifically and the going theory was that the coloration was caused by dust kicked up by storms. Well into the late 20th century, the red tint was attributed to the presence of iron oxide in the aforementioned dust.
It wasn’t until a study conducted in 2015 that we had conclusive proof of the origin of blood rain. Researchers collected samples of blood rain, analyzed them, and found that they contained aerial spores of the green microalgae Trentepohlia, and that they were responsible for the coloration.

The Original 4th Of July Celebratory Colors Were Not Red, White, And Blue, But?

Purple
Blue and Gold

Orange
Green

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The Explanation

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Answer: Green
Today there is a very strong association between red, white, and blue and the celebration of the Fourth of July. The association is so strong, in fact, that it’s hard to imagine it was ever different. Yet early celebrations of U.S. independence were rather light on the now traditional red, white, and blue color palette and quite heavy on green.
Why green? Many of the soldiers wore green boughs in their caps while celebrating the holiday and some, like the Green Mountain Rangers (a.k.a. Green Mountain Boys), had green coats. The association between green and the troops, and the ready availability of green decorative materials and fabrics made it the color of choice early on.
Later, as the U.S. flag became a bigger icon of the fledgling country and red, white, and blue paper for decoration became widely available, the holiday became the tri-colored celebration we know it as today.

Oscar The Grouch Wasn’t Originally Green, But?

Blue
Orange

Yellow
Black

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The Explanation

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Answer: Orange
The iconic children’s show Sesame Street has been on the air for over forty years, and for every one of those years, the grumpy lives-in-a-trash-can Oscar the Grouch has been as green as the leaves of the city street he lives on—all those years except for the first one, that is.
In the very first season of Sesame Street, Oscar the Grouch wasn’t green at all. He was a brilliant shade of orange that one might expect to find available only in a mid-century shag carpet. Stranger yet, Oscar wasn’t even originally intended to be green or orange, but magenta. In the earliest design sketches of the Sesame Street muppets, Oscar’s original shade was a rich magenta color. Why doesn’t he appear magenta in a single episode? Early color televisions had trouble displaying the bright purple color and they scrapped magenta for orange.
After the first season, Jim Henson himself decided that orange just didn’t look right and they switched his fur to green. If you’re worried that kids were confused by the change, don’t be—they explained it away with a simple premise. Oscar had gone on vacation to Swamp Mushy Muddy and something unspecified about the experience turned his fur green.

The Water Jets Under The Space Shuttle Launch Pad Aren’t For Cooling, But?

Sound Dampening
Fire Suppression

Pollution Control
Humidity Creation

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The Explanation

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Answer: Sound Dampening
If you’ve ever watched a shuttle launch, you’ve inevitably seen the giant billowing clouds of steam that roll off the launch pad. The steam is generated as a result of water, pumped in massive quantities from a nearby water tower, that douses the Mobile Launcher Platform (MLP) and flame trench under the shuttle during launch—in the image seen here, NASA engineers oversee a test of the water system that douses the Mobile Launcher Platform with over 300,000 gallons of water in less than a minute.
At first glance, it would be easy to assume that the water is used for cooling, but the launch pad and the flame trench underneath it are designed to easily withstand the intense heat and exhaust from the rocket boosters. Instead, the water jets and the resulting billowing clouds of steam are used to dampen the roaring sound of the enormous boosters.
The purpose of the sound suppression isn’t to protect the astronauts or the launch observers from the sound, however, as they are sufficiently protected by their equipment and distance from the launch site, respectively. Instead, it’s to protect the shuttle’s payload. The water system reduces the total energy of the sound low enough that it can’t harm delicate electronics and other equipment in the payload bay of the shuttle.
Image courtesy of NASA.

In The Novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Dorothy’s Magic Slippers Aren’t Ruby Red, But?

Onyx
Silver

Gold
Emerald

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The Explanation

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Answer: Silver
Dorothy’s ruby slippers from the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz are, arguably, the most iconic movie prop in the history of the industry. The handful that were created for the film are now considered among the most treasured and valuable pieces of film memorabilia. What’s curious is the ruby sparkle of the shoes Dorothy removed from the Wicked Witch of the East’s feet was not a design choice by the novel’s author, L. Frank Baum, but by screenwriter Noel Langley.
In the original story, the magic shoes are a shimmering silver color. But the release of MGM’s musical adaptation of the story coincided with the rise of Technicolor film. The silver shoes were just too monochromatic to use when theater-goers could be treated to rich colors—so the slippers were changed to ruby and, even in the brilliantly colored Land of Oz, they jumped off the screen and into movie history.
Image courtesy of MGM.