Understanding rainbows

To properly understand rainbows involves referring to different fields of enquiry and areas of knowledge.

  • The field of optics tells us that rainbows are about the paths that light takes through different media and are the result of reflection, refraction and dispersion of light in water droplets.
  • A weather forecaster might explain rainbows in meteorological terms because they depend on sunlight and only appear in the right weather conditions and times of the day.
  • A hydrologist, who studies the movement and distribution of water around the planet, might refer to the water cycle and so to things like evaporation, condensation and precipitation.
  • A vision scientist will need to refer to visual perception in humans and the biological mechanisms of the eye.
  • An optometrist may check for colour blindness or eye disease.

Our DICTIONARY OF LIGHT COLOUR AND VISION assembles terms drawn from these different fields to explore our central interest at lightcolourvision.org which is the interconnections between these three topics.
Whenever terms that appear in the DICTIONARY are used on pages within our LIBRARY OF DIAGRAMS, a blue link appears in the text.