Black and White

Hello and welcome back to another week of fun-filled fibs, falsehoods, and fabrications here at Factually Deficient! This week, I will answer a question posed here in the comments by Tohrinha. Tohrinha asked:

Why are old television shows in black and white?

Tohrinha is observing a phenomenon whereby the older a television show, the higher the likelihood that it is presented in greyscale, without any other colours of the electromagnetic spectrum.

The reason for this is simple: unlike most objects, which travel linearly forward through time, pigment is naturally fixed in time. In its untouched state, pigment – colours – are visible only at their exact moment of creation; and they will exist eternally at that moment, and be visible at no other. We fight this process by fusing the pigments to the items we wish to colour, thereby lending the linear chronology of the object to the pigment, as we lend the visual aspect of the pigment to the object. A symbiotic relationship.

However, the bonds of this relationship are not indefinitely sustainable. As time passes, the “glue” which holds the pigment to the object it colours grows weaker, until finally the pigment returns to its original fixed point in time. Thus, as television shows grow older, their pigments begin to return to their points of origin, leaving the television program in only shades of black and white.

This phenomenon is not restricted to television; the same principle is at work when colours of a poster on a wall begin to fade, when a person’s hair shades to white or gray, and when pale spots (often white) start appearing on elderly bread, cheese, and other food items. In all these cases, the object (or person) has aged to the point that the bonds tying it to its pigment have eroded, the pigment beginning to revert to its initial timeless state.


Disclaimer: The above blog post is certifiably false. Not all pigments are resistant to travelling linearly forward in time.


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