Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Rainbow Connection

The title of this picture is Six Rainbows Across Norway. I'll just shut up for a second while you admire the awesomeness.

Done? Ok, here's how it happened:

Rainbow #1, the primary rainbow, was created the old fashioned way by sunlight reflected off the backs of raindrops. If you're saying to yourself, "which side of the raindrop is the back?!" then we're on the same page. Turns out that just means the side opposite where the light entered the drop; like if I ran into your house, bounced off a wall, and ran back out the front. Except I doubt I'd come out prettier than I went in. The reason that works for rainbows is that white sunlight is actually light of various colors blending to appear white. The different colors of light reflect at different angles, causing them to fan out inside the raindrop. When they exit, the separate bands of color are visible to the human eye. Rainbow!

Rainbow #2, the secondary rainbow, is created when the light ricochets around inside the raindrop a little more than usual. Imagine I ran into your house again, but this time I bounced off all the walls and part of me flew out the window and part of me went out the door. Ok, maybe that's a bad analogy, but you get what I mean. Because the secondary rainbow is basically a reflection of a reflection, the colors are inversed from those of the primary rainbow.

Rainbow #3 is a reflected rainbow, and this is where it gets weird. A reflected rainbow appears when light hits the raindrops, comes out all rainbowed-up, then reflects off a body of water and finally is projected in the sky. This extra reflection causes the rainbow to show up at a strange angle, which is determined by the sun's altitude. Reflected rainbows should not be confused with reflection rainbows, although I imagine they often are. Reflection rainbows occur when light hits the body of water first, then the raindrops. They wind up having the same end points as the primary rainbow, but a much larger arc.

The other three of the six rainbows are just the first three reflected in the water's surface, which you likely figured out for yourself. I'm sure a rainbow purist would argue that there are only three actual rainbows in the picture, but I don't know any rainbow purists and if I did they'd probably be jerks.

Extra bonus fact-- Since I just used every variant of the word 'reflect' more times than I ever thought possible, I figured I'd look the thing up. It comes from the Latin reflectere, meaning 'to bend back'. Fascinating. More interesting is that 'reflectedly' is a real word. I dare you to use that in a sentence that doesn't sound incredibly awkward. Double dog dare you.


Etherian H. Wren said...

"His mind saturnely sifted through the aether, falling in a tumbling motion while her thoughts reflectedly shifted the light of some somber summer Sun cast beneath the silent and nostalgic waves to strangely illuminated the gravity of all things beneath the Ocean."

- Two byrds with one stone. Saturnely and reflectedly in the same sentence, although you could argue that it is awkward, I guess, but it seems pretty smooth to me. (Consequently, saturnely isn't even a word = extra points?).

Miss Lady said...

Ah, I should have known you'd accept my challenge. But why "reflectedly"? Wouldn't "reflectively" or even "reflectingly" make more sense? You've already got the -ed suffix on "shifted", do you really need it in your adverb?

Also, making up your own words ALWAYS = extra points.

Etherian H. Wren said...

Why? Tisk tisk. It's a poetic device called literary consonance.

Similar to alliteration, but usually at the end of a word instead of the beginning, it is a repetition of certain consonants with vowel sounds for aesthetic value.

Thus, the repeated "ed."
Nothing makes more sense to me than this.

Miss Lady said...

I suppose I am getting too caught up in the rigidity of grammar. Must be all the communications classes I'm taking.

Etherian H. Wren said...

Here is a string of one color:

Grammar can be said to be the study of the laws governing the use of language or some such nonsense.

This is an illusion. There are no laws of language. Language is a living, breathing entity that responds to our every breath, twitch, itch, and movement. We dictate what grammar becomes through written words and speech. Grammar does not dictate to us how to communicate. This seems to be a modern misconception.

Example: 20 years ago, it was not accepted to ask, "can I go to the bathroom?" You had to say, "may I go to the bathroom." Now, "can" is said in grammar books to be an accepted form of asking a question simply because of its common usage.

Grammar is not proactive; it is reactive.

Language is not static, nor should it ever be. There are no barriers...except perhaps in a communication class.

Like most things, the falsely created "laws" of grammar should be learned ONLY so they can be broken and shattered. Then, some other less-creative person can try and come up with a new theory of the creative trends that artists leave in their wake. For some reason, these less creative people seem to want to box other artists in by making laws, perhaps it has something do do with their resentment and jealously of the artists ability to create. Perhaps they are just intimidated by the infinite possibilities that haunt our dreams. Perhaps not. This is all a bit of silliness really.

Poetic license is EVERYTHING pure; the creative force that govern the universe.
All else is destructively evil.

(this, of course, is just one side of a kaleidescope conversation - don't take it seriously)

Anonymous said...

excellent points and the details are more precise than elsewhere, thanks.

- Norman