Newton's Opticks with colour Spectrum
Opticks by the English physicist and mathematician Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727), published in 1704 with a colour spectrum produced by a prism projected across the title page. This work was based on Newton's own experimental investigations into the behaviour of light. In Opticks he discussed topics such as the refraction of light by prisms and the rings of coloured light formed between a lens and a mirror in contact with each other (later termed Newton's rings). In Isaac Newton's time, it was believed that white light was colourless, and that the prism itself produced the colour. Newton's experiments convinced him that all the colours already existed in the light in a heterogeneous fashion, and that "corpuscles" (particles) of light were fanned out because particles with different colours travelled with different speeds through the prism.
© DAVID PARKER/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
The multi-colored Grand Prismatic spring in Yellowstone National Park as seen from above
The Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park is the largest hot spring in the United States, and the third largest in the world. Its colors match the rainbow dispersion of white light by an optical prism: red, orange, yellow, green, and blue. The vivid colors in the spring are the result of pigmented bacteria in the microbial mats that grow around the edges of the mineral-rich water.
European Greenfinch (Chloris chloris) flying at dawn
European Greenfinch (Chloris chloris) flying at dawn. When backlit the tiny transparent barbs that make up the feather act like a prism revealing vivid colours in the early light. Monmouthshire, Wales UK, February.
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