I've come across an article (in Russian), which describes a nonlinear two-component color vision theory made in 1975 by S. Remenko. The article heavily criticizes trichromatic theory as very imperfect. There's a whole page related to the criticism. Some of the citations there refer to Feynman's lectures vol. I ch. 35, where also some doubts are expressed. See e.g. the part by Feynman:

Using the three different kinds of color blindness, the three pigment response curves have finally been determined, and are shown in Fig. 35–8. Finally? Perhaps. There is a question as to whether the three-pigment idea is right, whether color blindness results from lack of one pigment, and even whether the color-mix data on color blindness are right. Different workers get different results. This field is still very much under development.

But the only English-language place I've found mentioning Remenko's two-component theory was the book "Computer Systems for Healthcare and Medicine" by Piotr Bilski and Francesca Guerriero, where the first name also looks suspiciously Russian.

So I'm somewhat skeptic about credibility of all this Remenko's theory and the criticism of the trichromatic theory. But having not much expertise in color vision theories, I thus prefer to ask the experts: is the theory by Remenko actually credible? Is it even known outside of Russian-speaking world? Has it been falsified? Is trichromatic theory really flawed in any significant way so that a replacement theory would be required (are Feynman's remarks out of date?)?

  • $\begingroup$ We have the physiology of colour vision nailed down pretty precisely, across a broad suite of species. There are some subtleties (there aren't, strictly, only three receptors involved in vision, and the number and properties of the receptors differ between species). But the general theory is still basically trichromatic theory. If the mechanisms in 'two-component theory' are very different, then that theory is very wrong. See biology.stackexchange.com/questions/39882/… $\endgroup$
    – bshane
    Oct 19, 2018 at 0:33
  • $\begingroup$ answering your sub-Q: Remenko's theory of color vision is not really shows up on Google search. So it is likely very esoteric $\endgroup$ Oct 19, 2018 at 0:53
  • $\begingroup$ This is a confirmation of the theory of Remenko. pnas.org/content/113/29/8206 $\endgroup$
    – Max Dakhin
    Feb 7, 2019 at 8:01
  • $\begingroup$ It's not: Remenko's theory doesn't use any chromatic aberration to explain anything; moreover, it's two-component while the paper you link is about one-component+chromatic aberration. $\endgroup$
    – Ruslan
    Feb 7, 2019 at 18:51

1 Answer 1


That era produced a lot of very questionable science from Russia; there is no good reason to doubt the three-component color vision theory, and it's also the basis of all RGB TVs and computer monitors. However, I can't read Russian so I don't have any idea what this two-component theory is.

Typical humans have three cone cells, which is the biological origin of having three components for color vision. Colorblind individuals who lack one of the three cones have color discrimination issues consistent with the three component model. I am not aware of any credible research that questions this.

The lack of further study into the theory you refer to probably puts it into the category of "not even wrong" - based on such flawed reasoning or premises that it isn't worth disputing.

Nathans, J., Merbs, S. L., Sung, C. H., Weitz, C. J., & Wang, Y. (1992). Molecular genetics of human visual pigments. Annual review of genetics, 26(1), 403-424.

  • $\begingroup$ Please see the edit to the question. I've added some relevant part of the Feynman's remarks about validity of trichromatic theory. $\endgroup$
    – Ruslan
    Oct 18, 2018 at 20:48
  • $\begingroup$ @Ruslan Color-blindness is slightly more complicated because not everyone's color-blindness is because they are missing a particular cone. The others are because of shifts in the wavelengths the pigments are sensitive to. $\endgroup$
    – Bryan Krause
    Oct 18, 2018 at 20:59
  • $\begingroup$ It is worth mentioning hte other component of color vision which is how our brain processes color and how opponent colors work. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opponent_process $\endgroup$
    – John
    Feb 6, 2019 at 23:15
  • $\begingroup$ Remenko’s theory may only be dismissed (in favor of the L/M/S-cones theory) after obtaining a conclusive evidence of blue-sensitive (S) cones in humans; or at least, some primates. How did Nathans, Merbs, Sung, Weitz & Wang (or anybody else) prove that OPN1SW is the “short wave sensitive opsin”? Has OPN1SW been extracted from a cone? IMHO various Internet “authorities” merely replicate opinion pieces. Hopefully science doesn’t work like this, where linking to Wikipedia, having the ♦ thing, 25k rep, and bashing USSR for Lysenkoism is sufficient for a heap of upvotes. $\endgroup$ Aug 24, 2020 at 6:57
  • $\begingroup$ @IncnisMrsi You are free to write your own answer. $\endgroup$
    – Bryan Krause
    Aug 24, 2020 at 13:13

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