Unweaving the Rainbow

Rainbow formation on a disk-like raindrop. Drag the locator up and down to vary where the light ray strikes the raindrop, or right and left to thicken the ray lines.


  • [Snapshot]
  • [Snapshot]
  • [Snapshot]


Snapshot 1: Unit refractiveness agrees with the experimental data for the refractive index of water as a function of wavelength. (Source: Philip Laven. "The optics of a water drop.")
Snapshot 2: The refractiveness factor exaggerates the differences between the refractive indices of the colors. It also increases the number of rays and their thickness.
Snapshot 3: Extremely high refraction and a low angle of incidence are shown.
The title of the Demonstration is borrowed from Richard Dawkins, who writes: "My title is from Keats, who believed that Newton had destroyed all the poetry of the rainbow by reducing it to the prismatic colors".


    • Share:

Embed Interactive Demonstration New!

Just copy and paste this snippet of JavaScript code into your website or blog to put the live Demonstration on your site. More details »

Files require Wolfram CDF Player or Mathematica.