Why Are So Many Cartoon Characters Yellow?

Whether you’re watching The Simpsons, Pokemon, or Adventure Time, there’s one color that stands out. Yellow has been a favorite choice of animators since cartoons were first colorized, and they aren’t just choosing the shade because it looks pretty. A combination of art theory and psychology helps explain yellow’s rise to prominence.

As Sploid reports, and ChannelFrederator lays out, a cartoon character’s color scheme is usually chosen to complement their background. In SpongeBob SquarePants, for example, the most common setting is the expansive blue backdrop of the ocean. According to the RGB color scale used in television screens, blue is in direct contrast to yellow, so bright yellow was the most visually appealing choice for the show’s title character. This bit of color theory also applies to shows set on land, where a lot of the action takes place against the blue sky.


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Color complements are just one part of the yellow character trend; the color yellow holds a lot of significant connotations, too. It’s often associated with feelings of happiness, playfulness, and warmth—a.k.a. traits we see in many of our cartoon protagonists.

Using yellow is also an effective way to grab someone’s attention. That’s the reason why The Simpsons's creators chose yellow instead of a more natural skin tone for their characters—they figured the shade would be instantly recognizable to viewers flipping through channels. Yellow’s eye-grabbing qualities also explain its prevalence in restaurant advertisements.

You can learn the full story behind this colorful phenomenon in the video below.

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Are Any of the Scientific Instruments Left on the Moon By the Apollo Astronauts Still Functional?

Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong left the first footprint on the Moon on July 20, 1969.
Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong left the first footprint on the Moon on July 20, 1969.
Heritage Space/Heritage Images/Getty Images

C Stuart Hardwick:

The retroreflectors left as part of the Apollo Lunar Ranging Experiment are still fully functional, though their reflective efficiency has diminished over the years.

This deterioration is actually now delivering valuable data. The deterioration has multiple causes including micrometeorite impacts and dust deposition on the reflector surface, and chemical degradation of the mirror surface on the underside—among other things.

As technology has advanced, ground station sensitivity has been repeatedly upgraded faster than the reflectors have deteriorated. As a result, measurements have gotten better, not worse, and measurements of the degradation itself have, among other things, lent support to the idea that static electric charge gives the moon an ephemeral periodic near-surface pseudo-atmosphere of electrically levitating dust.

No other Apollo experiments on the moon remain functional. All the missions except the first included experiment packages powered by radiothermoelectric generators (RTGs), which operated until they were ordered to shut down on September 30, 1977. This was done to save money, but also because by then the RTGs could no longer power the transmitters or any instruments, and the control room used to maintain contact was needed for other purposes.

Because of fears that some problem might force Apollo 11 to abort back to orbit soon after landing, Apollo 11 deployed a simplified experiment package including a solar-powered seismometer which failed after 21 days.

This post originally appeared on Quora. Click here to view.

What Makes a Hotel Breakfast 'Continental'?

Hotels often offer a complimentary pastry and fruit breakfast.
Hotels often offer a complimentary pastry and fruit breakfast.
tashka2000/iStock via Getty Images

The continental breakfast, which is typically made up of pastries, fruit, and coffee, is often advertised by hotels as a free perk for guests. But why is it called continental, and why don’t patrons get some eggs and bacon along with it?

The term dates back to 19th century Britain, where residents referred to mainland Europe as “the continent.” Breakfast in this region was usually something light, whereas an English or American breakfast incorporated meat, beans, and other “heavy” menu options.

American hotels that wanted to appeal to European travelers began advertising “continental breakfasts” as a kind of flashing neon sign to indicate guests wouldn’t be limited to American breakfast fare that they found unappealing. The strategy was ideal for hotels, which saved money by offering some muffins, fruit, and coffee and calling it a day.

That affordability as well as convenience—pastries and fruit are shelf-stable, requiring no heat or refrigeration to maintain food safety—is a big reason continental breakfasts have endured. It’s also a carryover from the hybrid model of hotel pricing, where American hotels typically folded the cost of meals into one bill and European hotels billed for food separately. By offering a continental breakfast, guests got the best of both worlds. And while Americans were initially aghast at the lack of sausages and pancakes on offer, they’ve since come around to the appeal of a muffin and some orange juice to get their travel day started.

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