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Isaac Newton and prism experiment

Isaac Newton and prism experiment

H414/0073

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Credit

SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Isaac Newton. Engraving of Sir Isaac Newton (1642- 1727), English physicist, performing an optics experiment with a prism. Newton (at centre) passed a ray of light through a prism in a dark room onto a screen. The white light was refracted (bent) but different parts of it were refracted to a different extent. This meant that the screen was illuminated by bands of consecutive colours of the spectrum; these are red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. This experiment was performed in 1666, a productive year for Newton's research as his students at Cambridge University had been sent home due to fears of plague. He published his results in Opticks (1704). Engraving from "La Vies des Savants Illustres" by Louis Figuier (1868).

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