Even today, with the limitless paint colors at our disposal, you’ll likely see mostly red barns while driving down a country road. The reason for this, remarkably, has to do with the byproducts of dying stars.
As Google employee Yonatan Zunger explained on his Google+ profile, barns have historically been painted red because red paint is the cheapest. But to really dig deep and get to the bottom of why that is, you have to “go all the way to the formation of matter itself,” he writes. The foundation of red paint relies on iron oxide, an organic compound that reflects reddish-orange light while absorbing yellow, green, and blue light waves. On our planet, there’s tons of it, and we have the natural process of nuclear fusion to thank.
Zunger lays out all the details his blog post, explaining,
So the next time you’re driving through the country or walking past a bold accent wall, remember that it took a massive astronomical event to get there.