Geography

Question

6. Why can we see all the different colors of visible light waves in a rainbow? (Include the words: Frequency, wavelength)

2 Answer

  • One of the characteristics of light is that it behaves like a wave. As a result, light can be defined by its wavelength and frequency. The frequency is how fast the wave vibrates or goes up and down. The wavelength is the distance between two peaks of the wave. Frequency and wavelength are inversely related, meaning that a low frequency wave has a long wavelength and vice versa.

    When light hits a surface, some of it is absorbed and some of it is reflected. The light that is reflected is the colour of the object in that light. For example, a blue object absorbs all the colours of the spectrum except blue: it reflects blue light. Visible light waves are the only electromagnetic waves we can see. We see these waves as the colors of the rainbow. Each color has a different wavelength. Red has the longest wavelength and violet has the shortest wavelength. When all the waves are seen together, they make white light. When white light shines through a prism or through water vapor like this rainbow, the white light is broken apart into the colors of the visible light spectrum.

    Cones in our eyes are receivers for these tiny visible light waves. The Sun is a natural source for visible light waves and our eyes see the reflection of this sunlight off the objects around us.
    The color of an object that we see is the color of light reflected. All other colors are absorbed.

    Light bulbs are another source of visible light waves.

    Hope this helps :)
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