DAVID PARKER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DAVID PARKER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Flint Glass Prism refracting the colour spectrum. Computer artwork. A narrow slit of light is focussed towards the prism which refracts the light into the colour spectrum. In Isaac Newton's time, it was believed that white light was colourless, and that the prism itself produced the colour. Newton's experiments convinced him that all the colours already existed in the light in a heterogeneous fashion, and that "corpuscles" (particles) of light were fanned out because particles with different colours travelled with different speeds through the prism. It was only later that Young and Fresnel combined Newton's particle theory with Huygen's wave theory to show that colour is the visible manifestation of light's wavelength.
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