Rainbow colours

Hecht, Jeff
September 1991
New Scientist;9/21/91, Vol. 131 Issue 1787, p23
The article reports on a study of rainbow colors by conducted by American physicist Raymond Lee. The colors of the rainbow are not as pure as folklore and theory would have it, according to Lee. He said that even the brightest and purest of rainbows is contaminated by light from the background sky. Lee analyzed images of rainbows using new digital instruments. He found that if he subtracted the color of the background sky, the colors in the rainbows were much purer and closer to the predictions of classical optical theory. The purity of light-known as "colon-metric purity"-is defined by comparing it to monochromatic light, which can be generated artificially, usually by a laser.


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