Posts Tagged: physics of rainbows

Oct 14

The rainbow animation

Watering plants in the sun we see rainbows in the stream. It seems to me that the rainbow is an animation, a sort of cartoon. The rainbow looks quite consistent; true, it wavers in an out of view with the irregularity of the waterflow but it’s usually intact for several seconds. Each individual drop is a prism, very briefly refracting the sun. But each drop is also moving; is on its way from hose to plants. I’m seeing an area of refraction repeated by passing drops, each one offering its individual animation cell for a split second as it passes; it then flies beyond the ideal viewing angle, with respect to my eyes, but a following drop does its own refraction as it too passes.

The overall rainbow is complete with the usual range of colors, vivid primary colors and purple shading to violet, orange to red. The whole image is one finished rainbow, rippling like a banner in the wind. This is remarkable in itself: the animation not just drop by drop at the ideal angle, but laterally expressed into a curving rainbow band. The precision of randomness again seems innately contradictory but it’s simply a beautifully written-out equation; it’s written in air, sunlight, water, gravitation, momentum, velocity, and other insignia, over and over again…