why is the rainbow always the same colors?

There are commonly said to be seven colors in a rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. The reason why we perceive seven main bands of color is based on the way sunlight interacts with water droplets in the atmosphere and how our eyes interpret the spectrum of light.

Rainbows form when white sunlight enters a water droplet, refracts (bends), reflects off the back of the droplet, and then refracts again as it exits the droplet. This process separates the white light into its component colors due to the varying wavelengths of light. Each color bends at a slightly different angle, creating a multi-colored arc.

Sir Isaac Newton was the first to experimentally demonstrate that white light could be separated into its constituent colors. In his work, he identified seven colors, which align with the traditional color names mentioned above. However, it’s worth noting that the colors in a rainbow are not sharply divided; there is a continuum of colors between these bands, and the exact number of distinguishable colors depends on the observer’s visual acuity and the brightness and contrast of the rainbow.

The tradition of naming seven colors in a rainbow likely stems from Newton’s work and has been culturally ingrained ever since. In reality, the spectrum is continuous, but our brains tend to categorize the colors we see into distinct bands, giving us the impression of seven constant colors.

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