Throughout history, there’s been something remarkably powerful about the color purple.

Its appeal has manifested across the arts and popular culture — including in Alice Walker’s same-named Pulitzer Prize-winning 1982 novel that was adapted into an Oscar-nominated 1985 film, a Tony-winning 2005 Broadway musical and now a 2023 movie musical that opens on Christmas Day.

To learn more about the science behind a color so special that nonroyal ancient Romans wearing it could be put to death, we checked in with Yongjia He, a doctoral candidate in the UCLA Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry who studies quantum state manipulation and spectroscopy, for the latest episode of the UCLA College video series, “Silly Questions, Smart Bruins.”

He, a leader of the Quantum Computing Student Association at UCLA, imagines how to create a scientifically accurate “mood ring” for Mother Nature, how quantum science has probably changed your life already — and what to do if confronted with a one-eyed, one-horned, flying, purple people eater.

(Watch previous installments of “Silly Questions, Smart Bruins.”)