Posts tagged ‘Dispersion’

February 18, 2011

Reunweaving The Rainbow

by Lucas Wilkins

(* Warning — Some readers may find this massively pedantic *)

A while ago I did some research into rainbows. I’d been reading about Newton and his rings, and thinking about what people say about him and his opinion on the number of colours in a rainbow. In which way these “principal colours” were important to him is a little unclear (“because they pass into one another by insensible gradation” !?!!?!, link), but it seems to me that he understood the relation between the continua of pitch and hue and their (somewhat arbitrary) relation to the respective discrete scales rather well. Anyway, I thought I would have a go at asking how many colours there are in a rainbow, perhaps there would be a sensible answer… I gave up pretty quickly, because I noticed something else.

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