Unweaving the Rainbow

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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.

Contributed by: Borut Levart (March 2011)
Open content licensed under CC BY-NC-SA



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".

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