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Translations of Encyclopedia about Physics


Spectral Colours

The light spectrum is made up of a rich assortment of colours which result when white light passes through a glass prism, during which it breaks up into different wave lengths. These various wave lengths, ranging between 380 and 780 nm, are individually visible to the human eye in their different colours, from blue to green, yellow and red. The colour spectrum is also emitted by heated solid and liquid substances. Contrary to this, only individual or selected spectral colours are emitted from burning gases.

Colour is therefore a visible phenomenon which occurs as a result of different wave lengths of light. Each wave length generates a certain colour within the human eye, where an object appears to us as colourful when light falling on it reflects only certain wave lengths. Therefore, an object which we perceive as red only reflects the red part of the spectrum. An object which reflects all light rays falling on it appears white to us, where an object which does not reflect any or absorbs all light rays falling on it appears to us as black. If some light sources emit only a portion of the colour spectrum, they colour an object differently, such as colour reflectors in a discotheque.

The light spectrum is also created in nature, such as in the atmosphere with the case of a rainbow, which appears like a curved colour spectrum on the horizon. A rainbow occurs when sunlight fractures in the barrier between air dispersed with rain drops and air without rain drops. When the sunlight lands on these drops, it fractures and reflects, which is why we notice this phenomenon after a rainfall or when water is sprayed into the air, such as with a water fountain or a waterfall. The curved nature of the rainbow depends on the position of the sun. The higher the position of the sun the larger is the radius of the rainbow. The arrangement of the colours in a rainbow, from the outer ring inwards, is the same as the order of colours in the light spectrum, which is red orange, yellow, green, blue and violet.

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