International Colour Vision Society Symposium 2001

A symposium of the International Colour Vision Society was held in Cambridge, from Friday July 13th to Tuesday July 17th, 2001. The meeting covered all aspects of normal colour perception, as well as inherited and acquired deficiencies of colour vision. The meeting was sponsored by the Wellcome Trust; and the Colour Group of Great Britain acted as the host national society. The organisers are leaving in place these web pages, for the convenience of contributors requiring information about publication arrangements and for anyone wishing to refer back to the travel and accommodation information originally provided for delegates. We have added a photographic record of the meeting.

The next symposium of the International Colour Vision Society will be held in Seattle, July 11 - 15, 2003. For details of abstract submission, registration, and accommodations for the meeting, please visit the Seattle conference web site.

The Proceedings of the Cambridge Symposium have been published by Oxford University Press as a hard-bound book. The bibliographic details are as follows:

"Normal and Defective Colour Vision", Edited by J. D. Mollon, J. Pokorny and K. Knoblauch, Oxford University Press, 2003. ISBN 0198525303

The contents of "Normal and Defective Colour Vision" can be viewed here either as an Alphabetical List or as a Contents List in the order that they appear in the book.


Emmanuel College Pond
Emmanuel College Pond

The symposium was held in Cambridge to mark the bicentennial of Thomas Young's Bakerian Lecture of 1801, in which he developed the wave theory of light, used interference colours to estimate the wavelengths of particular hues, and introduced the trichromatic theory of colour vision in its modern form. Thomas Young was a Fellow Commoner of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and College legend holds that he first observed wave interference in patterns of radiating ripples in the pond in the Paddock at Emmanuel.

Thomas Young After graduating in medicine at the Georg-August University, Göttingen, Young had come to Emmanuel in 1797. During this period he worked experimentally on acoustics. A college contemporary recorded: '...his room had all the appearance of belonging to an idle man. I once found him blowing smoke through long tubes...' These experiments on acoustics were in fact to form the basis for a paper in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society in 1800. By the autumn of 1801 his analogy between sound and light was fully developed. He delivered his Bakerian Lecture 'On the Theory of Light and Colours' on November 12 of that year.


The sixteenth symposium of the International Colour Vision Society included the following events:

  • Friday evening, July 13. Private reception in the Fitzwilliam Museum and an introduction to Renaissance colourists by the Director, Duncan Robinson. The Keeper of Manuscripts kindly placed on display for the Society two of the treasures of the Fitzwilliam: the notebook in which Newton records his purchase of three prisms and Jean Corbechon's illuminated manuscript "On Colours" of 1415.
  • Saturday evening, July 14. Garden party beside the pond, Emmanuel College.
  • Sunday afternoon, July 15. Excursion, including a visit to Newton's birthplace, Woolsthorpe Manor.
  • Monday evening, July 16. Private reception in the Cambridge University Press bookshop followed by conference dinner in the Hall of Peterhouse.

The scientific sessions included the following invited talks:

  • Dr. Vivianne Smith: "Psychophysical studies correlated with Magno- and Parvo-cellular function"
  • Professor J. Koenderink: "Schopenhauer's colour theory"
  • Dr. G. F. X. Schertler: "The structure of rhodopsin"

The Verriest Lecture was given by Dr. D. I. A. MacLeod (UCSD) and was entitled: "Color discrimination, color constancy and natural scene statistics"

Spare copies of the original Abstract Book may be obtained by writing to J. D. Mollon at the address below.

Trade Exhibitors

Exhibitors at the meeting included: Cambridge Research Systems, D. G. Colour, Micron Techniques, Oculus, and Western Psychological Services.

Further Information

  • Accommodation
  • Travel and events
  • Committee Meeting
  • Programme
  • Submission of Abstracts
  • Contents of Proceedings
  • Photo Gallery
  • For any remaining questions that are not addressed on the above pages, enquiries may be directed to and postal correspondence should be addressed to:

    ICVS2001, Professor J. D. Mollon, Department of Experimental Psychology, Downing Street, Cambridge, CB2 3EB, United Kingdom

    Organising Committee

    Professor J. D. Mollon, Dr. B. C. Regan, Dr. A. Shapiro, Dr. M. Simunovic, Dr. M. V. Danilova, Mary Hood, Christoph Zrenner

    Last modified May 1, 2003 - Visitors: - contact webmaster