How were you taught to remember the colors of a rainbow? Perhaps you learned the acronym Roy G. Biv. Or maybe you were told of one of the mnemonic devices – Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain, Read Out Your Good Book In Verse, or Rinse Out Your Granny’s Boots In Vinegar.
However you were taught, chance are you would not have to phone a friend when asked to name the seven colors of a rainbow – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo & violet.
Seeing a rainbow the other day, I started to wonder about these colors. The rainbow I saw must have been having a rough day, because it appeared to be lacking a few colors. It was less Roy G. Biv and more Rob V.
How often do we see a rainbow so perfect that we can easily recognize all seven colors? Who was the eagle-eyed scientist that was able to spot the difference between indigo and violet? Was he/she just making it up so that we would have a catchy acronym?
Let’s find out in today’s edition of Wonder Why Wednesday…
Who Named The Colors Of A Rainbow?
Answer: Sir Issac Newton.
That’s right, the 2nd most famous Newton (behind Fig, ahead of Cam) is credited with naming the colors of a rainbow. He spotted these colors after he placed triangular prism in the path of a beam of light and found that the white light was split into seven colors. This is known as the the process of dispersion.
Originally, Newton said that the light was divided into five main colors: red, yellow, green, blue and violet. Later he included orange and indigo. Many people believe he increased the number to seven because of his religious beliefs, the days of the week or the known objects in the Solar System.