Now a new wrinkle has been added: color. The Open Door Baptist Church of Clear Brook, Virgina, erected a 100-foot-tall, 57,500-pound steel cross just off of Interstate 81 this past June. But 100 feet just doesn’t grab attention like it used to, so the church bought a $15,000 state-of-the-art projection system to beam colored light onto the cross after dark. “It’s a new invention,” said the church’s pastor, Ken Smith. “I was told that it can make 16.1 million different colors. An astronomical figure.”
The system was finally installed a couple of weeks ago. Pastor Smith accidentally left the colors sequencing (he had intended to keep it solid red for Christmas). “Everybody began calling!” he said, with the cross now reminding people of the changing colored lights on a giant cross-shaped Christmas tree. “I couldn’t go back and change it with all the people calling.”
Pastor Smith said the cross will continue to cycle through colors every night. He still plans to make it glow solid red for New Year’s Eve, and has penciled in purple for Easter and maybe red, white, and blue for July 4.
“I was told that it can make 16.1 million different colors. An astronomical figure.”
If I may make a geeky correction: I’m pretty sure he was told 16.7 million colors (or the person who told him was originally told that). 16.7 (or 16,777,216 to be precise) is 2 to the 24th power, and is the number of possible colors most modern computer displays are capable of (ignoring hand-held things which often use cheaper displays). This so-called “24-bit color” is broken down into three 8-bit numbers (with values between 0-255) for red, green, and blue — the primary colors of light, which combine together to make all the colors the human eye can see. (There are higher bit color images, but these contain either transparency values [a.k.a. “alpha”] or the increased color range is used to keep the image from being degraded during image processing. Most actual displays top out at 16.7m colors, and these are exceedingly common.)
Also, there is way, way more than 16.7 million stars in the sky and 16.7 miles is only like a fifth of an AU, so “astronomical” is a tad of an overstatement. More like “an entirely mundane figure”.
I think maybe the projector salesman wasn’t being entirely forthright.
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