Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Angry Birds, Audubon Style

John James Audubon was a naturalist who, in the early 1800s, traveled the Americas painting all kinds of birds. These were made by cutting and pasting bits of his watercolors.

Friday, December 6, 2013

The Origin of the Super Robot Genre

During the century leading up to World War II Japan had, over a remarkably short period of time, gone from a feudal society to an industrial one. The shock of a foreign civilization with superior technology arriving on their shores had spurred a rapid rise into an industrial power.
The boys growing up in Japan during World War II were fed a steady diet of propaganda about the might of their country's war machines. For kids fascinated by strength and technology, it was an easy sell. The destruction of cities at the end of the war only reinforced the message of the awe-inspiring power of technology for destruction.
One of the directions this took was a story about nuclear side-effects bringing to life a prehistoric monster that proceeds to devastate the cities of Japan. Godzilla's name comes from the Japanese word for whale (kujira) as a giant sea monster, and the word for gorilla (gorira), bringing to mind King Kong as another giant monster that devastated cities. His skin was deliberately modeled after the keloid scars of Hiroshima survivors. This film spawned an entire genre of Japanese movies about giant monsters.
Those giants will come into the story a little later. The stories about technology took a decidedly more personal turn.
Osamu Tezuka published the comic book Metropolis in 1949. He was 21 years old. A lot of the tropes we associate with Japanese manga and anime are already present in this work: the large eyes (he was influenced by the style of the Mickey Mouse comics popular at the time), the influences of technology for good and ill, shifting gender roles, the young protagonist, a person with the potential to explode with power, and most importantly, robots. A young child discovers that he is not a boy at all, but an artificial creation, with the power to destroy or remake the world.
Soon after he wrote Astro Boy, about another robot who was treated as human until he finds himself cast out. In this story, like Metropolis, there are many robots of all different shapes and sizes. Some, including ones Astro Boy faces in combat, are gigantic.
A lot of American films including robots from this time treated them as something to be feared, but in the Japanese stories a robot was usually associated with the hero. I think part of the reason might be the Japanese attitude about spirits. Shinto teaches that all kinds of things-- waterfalls, mountains, trees-- have spirits or kami of their own. So the whole idea of a robot being a person, someone with emotions and a point of view and personal worth, was not as hard for them to accept as it has been for traditionally Christian societies, which see a wide gulf between the spirits of humans and all other things.
In 1956, Mitsuteru Yokoyama wrote Tetsujin 28-Go (which translates as Ironman #28). The name may have been influenced by the names of American warplanes, like the B-29. This story is of a boy who has a remote control for the giant robot of the title. A few years later he wrote Giant Robo (a television version was broadcast in the US in the 1970s as Johnny Sokko and his Giant Robot), another story about a boy who has a giant robot that responds to his every command.
In 1972, Go Nagai wrote a comic called Mazinger Z (the animated version was broadcast in the US as Tranzor Z in the 1980s). For the first time in this story, the robot is not self aware or remote controlled, but piloted from within the head. This was the beginning of the super robot (スーパーロボット) genre of Japanese cartoons. Mazinger Z battled mainly against people transformed into giant monstrosities-- similar to the sort of monsters that showed up in Godzilla movies. The popular toy version was made of heavy die-cast metal, and could fire off its fists as launched weapons.
During the 70s and 80s, many super robot comics, cartoons, and toys were developed. A lot of these we would call mechs or mecha, which is actually a generic term for anything mechanical in Japan. The AT-ATs and AT-STs from Empire Strikes Back (a film very heavily influenced by Japanese imagery) are examples of these, as are Gundam and Mechwarrior.
One of the more interesting developments was transforming robots. The Microman toyline (so-called because the toys were much smaller than the 12-inch Gi-Joe size action figures the company had been selling previously-- in the US these were called Micronauts) featured what may be the first transforming robot in 1974. Some later toys from this series were rebranded in the US as Bumblebee, Megatron, and Soundwave, some of the first generation of Transformers toys. These were not actually meant to be giant robots, originally-- the Microman toys were said to be from from another, smaller world, and disguised themselves as toys on earth, either life-sized toy guns and cassette player, or miniature toy cars.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

sonic vision for the blind

The vOICe system allows blind people to get a representation of the visual world through sound. But our brains already have a way of mapping sound to space, and it works pretty well. So why not make use of the already existing system? I'm picturing some kind of pleasant sound tracing around the outlines of objects and walls, playing as if the sound were actually coming from the true point in space. Or a path might be marked out by a series of different virtual windchimes, so that the safe path to walk can be heard as increasingly faint sounds. One couldn't make everything in the environment emit noise-- it would be a cacaphony-- but you could easily have dozens of noise sources placed around in space if they were different enough from each other. The particular sound made could be tied to the meaning of the object.
Do you see how this would make so much more sense than mapping pitch to height and volume to brightness? The sonar clicking method also requires a lot of training. The method I'm suggesting is something we all already know how to do, the brain wouldn't need to be remapped at all. Plus, the sounds wouldn't be so awful as pure tones, they could be as pleasant as we could invent.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Academic Genealogy

This is my academic genealogy, which my brother David kindly went to all the trouble of researching for me. It traces back from my PhD advisor, to his PhD advisor, all the way back to Gallileo. Since that's about when Francis Bacon more or less made up the crazy game we call science, this really gives a picture of the whole enterprise.
It's fun to trace back the names you recognize, and see how they're connected. Fermi (father of the atomic bomb), studied under Max Born (who introduced matrices to quantum theory), who studied under Carl Runge (who invented the Runge-Kutta approximation method, taught in Freshman calculus), who studied under Karl Weierstrass (who put a solid foundation under calculus), who studied under some guy who was taught by Carl Gauss himself. So that goes from math to nuclear physics, and looking at the abstracts of the next few names down you can see how an interest in imaging quantum phenomena developed into an interest in imaging astronomy, and then turned into an interest in image processing, which turned into a study of computer vision.   It was also interesting to see that Ken Perlin, my advisor when I was working on my Master's degree, was the grad student of David Lowe, who invented SIFT. His advisor Thomas Binford built the ACRONYM system, which did the same kinds of things I tried to do in my dissertation, except way back in the 1970s! Of course before that there was no such thing as computer vision; his dissertation was also in physics.
Originally (beginning in the Middle Ages), a Doctorate meant that you had performed scholarship in libraries, rather than creating something new. It wasn't until the 19th century German universities added a requirement for original research in a dissertation that the degree of Doctor of Philosophy became what we know today.

(To read the names on a larger version, right click on the image and choose "Open Link in New Tab.")

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

some fictional libraries

The Library of Babel, which contains all possible combinations of letters, forming mostly nonsense books. "The universe (which others call the Library) is composed of an indefinite and perhaps infinite number of hexagonal galleries, with vast air shafts between, surrounded by very low railings. From any of the hexagons one can see, interminably, the upper and lower floors. The distribution of the galleries is invariable. Twenty shelves, five long shelves per side, cover all the sides except two; their height, which is the distance from floor to ceiling, scarcely exceeds that of a normal bookcase. One of the free sides leads to a narrow hallway which opens onto another gallery, identical to the first and to all the rest."

"From these two incontrovertible premises he deduced that the Library is total and that its shelves register all the possible combinations of the twenty-odd orthographical symbols (a number which, though extremely vast, is not infinite): Everything: the minutely detailed history of the future, the archangels' autobiographies, the faithful catalogues of the Library, thousands and thousands of false catalogues, the demonstration of the fallacy of those catalogues, the demonstration of the fallacy of the true catalogue, the Gnostic gospel of Basilides, the commentary on that gospel, the commentary on the commentary on that gospel, the true story of your death, the translation of every book in all languages, the interpolations of every book in all books."

In Otherland, there is a house the size of a world:
"Her first disconcerting realization was that they were not above much of the house at all, but only partway up one of the lower structures. The sky was real, but it was visible only between two other wings of the building, both of which rose far above their vantage point...The other disturbing thing was that there were no grounds to be seen whatsoever, except for a few glimpses lit by angling sunlight of roof gardens nestled between cupolas, or even one tucked into the wreckage of an ancient, broken dome. Instead, the house continued as far beyond the window as she could see, a stunning conglomeration of halls and towers and other structures for which she had no names, all connected in a labyrinthine whole, rooftops and chimneys spreading away and growing smaller and smaller with distance, an undifferentiated, choppy sea of gray and brown shapes that at last grew dim in the fading golden light."
 The kitchen is staffed by entire tribes who have never left it. There are endless hallways and rooms the size of aircraft hangers within rooms. The masters of the house are distant rumors. In that house is a library populated by monks:
"Shelves lined the Library from floor level all the way to the ceiling, dozens and dozens of shelves mounting upward until, like an art-class perspective exercise, they seemed to have no space left between them. Every single one was jammed from one side to another with books, so that the walls of the vast room had become abstract mosaics tiled in multicolored leather book spines. Enormously long ladders stood in some places, stretching many meters from the floor up the vertical facing of the book-cliffs; other, smaller versions dangled between one row of higher shelves and another, perhaps simplifying the journeys of scholars or clerks who had to move back and forth between the same spots many times. But in some spots along the immense shelves the only way to get to certain locations appeared to be along frighteningly crude rope bridges, one strand for the feet, the other chest high, the long, sagging cables rooted on platforms built in the room's corners. It was not the only use of rope: from the floor to a height of perhaps two stories the shelves were protected from theft and depredation by nets of knotted silk, so that the books could be seen but not touched or removed. The steep vertical shelves were acrawl with people in gray robes.... Quietly purposeful as bees on a honeycomb, these dark-robed figures repaired the book net where a cord had frayed or a knot had been cut, or moved carefully along the upper walkways. At least two dozen leaned out from ladders at various points along the shelves, wielding long-handled dusters."

From Lev Grossman's The Magicians:
"Quentin had spent very little time in the Brakebills library. Hardly anybody did if they could help it. Visiting scholars had been so aggressive over the centuries in casting locator spells to find the books they wanted, and spells of concealment to hide those same books from rival scholars, that the entire area was more or less opaque to magic, like a palimpsest that has been scribbled on over and over, past the point of legibility.
To make matters worse, some of the books had actually become migratory. In the nineteenth century Brakebills had appointed a librarian with a highly Romantic imagination who had envisioned a mobile library in which the books fluttered from shelf to shelf like birds, reorganizing themselves spontaneously under their own power in response to searches. For the first few months the effect was said to have been quite dramatic. A painting of the scene survived as a mural behind the circulation desk, with enormous atlases soaring around the place like condors. But the system turned out to be totally impractical. The wear and tear on the spines alone was too costly, and the books were horribly disobedient. The librarian had imagined he could summon a given book to perchon his hand just by shouting out its call number, but in actuality they were just too willful, and some were actively predatory. The librarian was swiftly deposed, and his successor set about domesticating the books again, but even now there were stragglers, notably in Swiss History and Architecture 300-1399, that stubbornly flapped around near the ceiling. Once in a while an entire sub-sub-category that had long been thought safely dormant would take wing with an indescribable papery susurrus."

and the sequel: "The library was still plagued by outbreaks of flying books—three weeks ago a whole flock of Far Eastern atlases had taken wing, terrifyingly broad, muscular volumes like albatrosses, and wrecked the circulation area, sending students crawling under tables. The books actually found their way out through the front door and roosted in a tree by the welters board, from which they raucously heckled passersby in a babel of languages until they got rained on and dragged themselves sulkily back to the stacks, where they were being aggressively rebound."

The Unseen Library from Discworld:
"The Library was the greatest assemblage of magical texts anywhere in the multiverse. Thousands of volumes of occult lore weighted its shelves.
 It was said that, since vast amounts of magic can seriously distort the mundane world, the Library did not obey the normal rules of space and time. It was said it went on forever. It was said that you could wander for days among the distant shelves, that there were lost tribes of research students somewhere in there, that strange things lurked in forgotten alcoves and were preyed on by other things that were even stranger.1
 Wise students in search of more distant volumes took care to leave chalk marks on the shelves as they roamed deeper into the fusty darkness, and told friends to come looking for them if they weren't back by supper.
 And, because magic can only loosely be bound, the Library books themselves were more than mere pulped wood and paper.
 Raw magic crackled from their spines, earthing itself harmlessly in the copper rails nailed to every shelf for that very purpose. Faint traceries of blue fire crawled across the bookcases and there was a sound, a papery whispering, such as might come from a colony of roosting starlings. In the silence of the night the books talked to one another."

The Name of the Rose describes a library filled with smoke and mirrors, where the lost works of Aristotle can be found. The library is in the shape of a maze that represents the world.

The Beast's library, in Robin McKinley's Beauty, contains all the books that have yet to be written.

One section of Dream's library, in Sandman, contains "all the books their authors never wrote, or never finished, except in dreams." Titles include Tolkein's The Lost RoadAlice's Journey Behind the MoonPsmith and Jeeves, and The Dark God's Darlings by Lord Dunsany.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Seeing infrared

My former advisor at NYU, Ken Perlin, posted a cool suggestion. Our eyes are good at adapting to modified spectra. So what if we squashed all the colors of the spectrum into the green-blue end, and opened up some space at the red end of the spectrum to include infrared? This isn't that hard to do in Photoshop. You download an RGB to HSB filter, adjust the output of the Hue channel levels, and then add the infrared image as a layer using the "linear dodge (add)" blending mode. Of course, you need an RGB and infrared of the same scene.

This is the near-infrared image of the scene, shown as red.

This is the original RGB image.

This is the spectrum-squashed RGB image.

Here is the final result. What has a reddish cast to it is giving off more near-infrared light. This tends to be the sky, the leaves of trees, grass, and people's skin.
Since the transformation I did changes red to yellow, you can get yellow in two ways-- infra-red plus green, and normal red light. Since ordinarily yellow comes from red plus green or true yellow light, I don't see this as a big problem.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

To Leibniz

[Do you ever find yourself thinking about how you would explain modern science to someone from the past? It happens to me every so often.  Here is how I might explain about life to Leibniz.]

Dr. Leibniz, I found your idea about animals being machines made of smaller machines in an infinite series fascinating, but this is something we actually understand very well here in the future, and it turns out to work somewhat differently than that.
You have seen animalcules through Leeuwenhoek's microscope? We call these "single-celled animals." Large animals, such as humans, are made up of billions of these animals. Like a self-sufficient colony on an island, an animal contains cells of many types, each with their specific jobs-- there are skin cells which are tough and flat, there are brain cells that connect to many neighbors to allow communication, there are red blood cells that carry oxygen from the lungs to various parts of the body, and white blood cells that act as defenders against infection. Sometimes these cells are organized into tissues which are organized into organs. While these cells are in a way complete organisms, in practice they have such special needs that none of them can naturally live on their own outside the body.
Like all cells, egg cells contain smaller machines within them that perform various functions. We call these organelles. Right, from the French. Some of these organelles themselves seem to be very similar to whole cells, so your idea is basically right even down to this level. But here we approaching the limit of how small something can be and still consist of matter. The components of these organelles are molecules. Molecules are alchemical compounds of what are called, for historical reasons, atoms, though they are actually divisible. Their parts explain their various alchemical properties. And those parts (called electrons, protons, and neutrons. Yes, like electricity, which is very important, but we will get into that later.) are divisible into smaller parts called quarks. (By the time quarks were discovered, Latin and Greek were no longer the international language of science. English, actually. Some time around 1950, I think? Yes, it was German for a while, but then you lost a couple of big wars.) And the quarks seems to be divisible into smaller parts called strings (because their behavior seems to have something to do with the laws of harmony, like vibrating strings) and those may in fact be made up of the fundamental particles of space, what you might call monads. But this is getting at the limits of what is known. Yes, it does seem like the pattern is for smaller and smaller structure, but there are good reasons for believing that this is actually a fundamental scale. I don't really understand how it is derived, but the formula involves the finite speed of light and the strength of gravitation.
Anyway, if you imagine being shrunk down to the scale of a molecule, you can stand inside the workings of a cell, like a vast mill, built out of atoms as a house is built of bricks. Looking into the largest of these organelles, we find incredibly long molecules, all coiled up. Imagine these molecules as a kind of bead necklace. Yes, I know I'm mixing metaphors here. The individual beads are small components, made of perhaps a dozen atoms. There are only four types of beads, and they do not follow a repeating pattern. Yes, exactly, you see it! An alphabet of four letters, containing all the instructions needed to build an entire animal. 
These beads are of a special form. Like magnets, they attract similar beads floating through the cell. But they are shaped so that only a complementary bead can attach. So now imagine the necklace as two necklaces joined together next to each other, with each bead attached to its complement. A tiny machine splits the necklace into two strands. Each strand waves around in the water, pulling beads toward it, but the beads can only attach if they are the correct bead. So after a time, each half of the necklace has become a copy of the original necklace. Sure, it seems slow, but events move faster the smaller you get. Yes, like a clock pendulum.
Reproduction among cells (animalcules) works like this. A mechanical process copies the instructions, so that the cell carries two copies. Other machines read off these instructions, and use them to build the other organelles. No, I wouldn't say they are intelligent, exactly. It is more like the punched cards of a jacquard loom. Imagine a loom that wove cloth, but also could somehow produce copies of its own cards. If one could make looms out of cloth, that would be all that is needed. That is how reproduction happens. So there doesn't need to be an infinite number of smaller copies inside, do you see? Only machines with instructions that are capable of building machines and giving them a copy of the instructions.
Well, it is unbelievably intricate, and beyond what human-made machines are able to do even in my time. And there are some people who believe that. But others think that this process, too, could have occurred naturally. At one point, billions of years in the past, the only living things on earth were animalcules. The ones that happened to work well together were more successful at obtaining food and reproducing, and ones that worked together better still formed even more complex colonies, until their empires conquered the globe. And each empire of animalcules was succeeded by one even stronger and better able to work together, until the societies became like simple worms. And the worms that happened to have little fins were better at swimming, and the ones with tougher skins were better at not being eaten, and so had more children until the world was full of tough, finned worms. And so it went-- worms into fishes and millipedes, and fishes into amphibians, and amphibians into reptiles, and reptiles into mammals and birds, and humans as a particularly successful mammal. We can find fossils formed from the preserved bones of these creatures in exactly that sequence, stacked layer on top of layer in the rock. Yes, it took billions of years.
There are no fossils of animalcules as far as I know, but we can speculate that before that the ocean was a kind of vast soup full of organelles, and before that simply full of molecules that could make copies of themselves, or at least, could make more likely other molecules which facilitated the formation of the first kind of molecules.
Well, yes, it does seem very unlikely to come about on its own. But the universe is, as far as we can tell, infinite in extent. Each star contains its own system of worlds. So it only had to happen once in the infinite universe. We look around and say, this world seems fit for us, but if the scientists are right, it was a matter of both us and the environment gradually changing to become more and more fit for each other. So it may or may not be the best of all possible worlds, but it is at least one of the few worlds that is good enough to have led to us.
Certainly, God may have set up the process on our world, like a farmer planting and tending seeds.  But God must have arisen somehow. We understand that more intelligent animals have more complex brains. We understand, basically, how the complex machine that is the brain calculates ideas based on other ideas. So God, being more intelligent than man, must be more complex than man. He cannot be fundamental, but must have arisen through at least as complex a process. So this account, even if it weren't true of our world, must have been true of some world, somewhere. It does what science ought to do-- it explains how more complicated things come about based on simpler things. 
No, I haven't talked about the soul, yet. A lot of the things that people in your time attributed to the soul-- life, memory, rationality-- we can explain mechanically. But the sensation of conscious existence is still a mystery. It may be, as you thought, a fundamental property of all the simplest parts of the world. It is a very hard thing to study. We may someday be able to build a machine that acts in every way like a person. But whether or not that machine has its own experiencer, how could we ever tell? It may be, like any automaton, simply an extremely convincing simulacrum. 

Things that require belief to exist

Things that only exist if enough people believe in them. They can be created by speaking.

particular languages
physical property
intellectual property
personal names
self-fulfilling prophecies
the sacredness of a flag

If this interests you, you might enjoy reading about the following terms
"socially constructed"
"consensus reality"


In that country, when a minor law or ordinance is violated, the criminal is forced to pay with a service of time. However, the times and type of service vary greatly depending on the station of the criminal. If he is a poor immigrant, he may have to serve a week of hard labor in the sun for the crime of going out of turn at an intersection. For the captain of industry, the penalty for such an infraction would be a few seconds wait in a comfortable room. Nevertheless, the people of that country consider such a system of penalties completely fair, and not corrupt. They point out that the immigrant, too, could be a wealthy merchant, with luck and effort.

Thursday, March 21, 2013


Why do we have a seven day week?
The cycle of the moon repeats about every 28 days, which is where we get the length of the month from. The only recognizable subdivisions of this are when the moon is full, the moon is new, and when the moon is half full. (We are able to tell convex from concave easily, but telling whether the moon is more or less than 1/3 full is difficult. This isn't just a cultural habit, but derives from the nature of orthogonality.) This divides the cycle of the moon into four equal sections.
If a holiday is going to be celebrated regularly, it makes sense to have it be on the day of the new moon, the full moon, and the half moons. (The same thing is true for the cycle of the year-- it makes sense to have the big celebrations timed for the equinoxes and the solstices, because they are the easiest dates to be sure of.)
This connection with the lunar cycle is explicit in the Babylonian calendar, but by historical times the Hebrew calendar had become a repeating cycle of seven days, disregarding the phase of the moon.

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Wizard

Magicians and kings desire power:
To sit on the Emerald Throne, and speak
words which, on speaking, become a truth.
We deal in illusion:
Ruling is the art of making believe.
Screens in the corner,
fields of poppies,
streets paved with gold:
these are the spectacles
that hold back the deserts.
The scarecrow becomes king.

On losing a pet

Last year, my son (who was 9) lost his pet kitten. At first I told him that I was sure she would be back soon, but after a couple weeks had passed, I was less sure.  He was very anxious about her, and mentioned her at least a couple of times a day. I was looking for something to say that would console him, or at least ease his mind a little.  I did come up with something, finally, that made him feel much less worried, and I thought I would post it here in case anyone reading this finds themselves in a similar situation someday.

Listen. Most cats are happy to live in a house, with people to provide them food, and a warm place to sleep every day, and to pet them and play with them.  That's all they want out of life.  But a few cats are different. A few cats are a little bit sharper, a little bit faster than the average. They have more life in them, more of what makes a cat a cat. They are like Sir Francis Drake, or the Marco Polo of Cats. They need adventure, to explore, to find out everything they can about the world. I think your kitten might have been one of these.
She set out one day, chasing a bird, and found herself far from home, and one part of her wanted to go back, wanted to be with you and her friend cats, but another part was saying, go a little farther.  Who knows what could be out there? There could be lost tombs of ancient cat civilizations.  There could be a vast buried treasure of golden feathers tied on ribbons to sticks. Who knows? Go a little farther.  And so she decided to go and see what there was to see.
I saw her one day, a few days after she got out of the house. She was alert and bright-eyed, her ears perked up and her legs tensed to pounce.  And suddenly, she started running.  I've never seen a cat move so fast.  She took great bounding steps, like a cheetah, each one farther than the last until it seemed like she was flying.
She's going to be all right.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

fictional afterlives

When you die, your spirit can pass through earth and solid rock, but finds air to be solidly impenetrable. Because of this, the earth has the same surface, but spirits walk on the inside of it.  The roots of trees are what grows into the land of the dead.  Moles and worms fly there, but slowly. The dead can see and swim through water, but it piles up in places-- in the case of the oceans, the water is miles high and larger than a continent. It is always purple twilight in that world.

When you die, you are reincarnated.  But your memories were stored in your brain and rot with it. Your attitudes and aptitudes, your wisdom and your sins, all remain in your body and decay quickly. You continue, but you begin a completely new story, taking absolutely nothing from the previous one.

When you die, you enter a tunnel of light. Most people proceed forward along that until until they reach the light. Some retreat backwards into deeper and deeper darkness. You, however, notice the air-vents at the base of the tunnel, and manage to bash off the bolts with a loose stone, and slip into the unspeakably ancient infrastructure of that place. You find yourself in the workings of the world, and what happens to you is perhaps strangest of all...

When you die, you see your entire life before you as a long quilt, hanging on the wall. You can return to any point in your life you choose, and begin again from there.  This has happened to you many, many times, but you never remember it.

When you die, you go to heaven. For most people, that is enough.  But you are unsatisfied, and leave for the border, which is a parched desert that extends away from heaven for a thousand light-years in each direction. Along with a few strangers, you painfully begin the process of digging irrigation canals and planting hardy seeds.  It is tedious, difficult work, but there is no time limit. You dig your home out of the cracked earth. Sometimes, in the evenings, you sing.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Colors that don't exist

Fuligin ("darker than black," the color of a torturer's cloak)
Octarine ("the color of magic," a flourescent "greenish-yellow purple")
The eighth ray (used for propulsion on Mars)
The colour out of space (almost certainly described as "squamous")
Infra-green (used to find the mushroom planet)
Grue and Bleen ("grue ... applies to all things examined before t just in case they are green but to other things just in case they are blue")
Hooloovoo ("a superintelligent shade of blue" probably not on the spectrum from Ultra-violent to Infra-dead)