These surprising bursts of color also explain why fireworks look super lame on TV or in an Instagram post—and why we’d rather risk injury to get up close and personal to the action.
Screens on computers and televisions are made up of red, green and blue pixels that our brain scrambles up, kind of like an artist mixing paint on a palette. If we mix red and green paint, we’d get yellow, but yellow originally was never there. Because pixels also vary in brightness, our brains can create all sorts of color combinations based off of the primary RGB three, but those colors don’t actually exist on the screen itself. When we watch fireworks “live,” we’re witnessing an authentic representation of color very different from the RBG-combos we’re accustomed to.