OMIKRON / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY OMIKRON / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Newton's optics. Historical artwork of the English physicist Isaac Newton (1642-1727) conducting his famous experiment on light. He is using a prism to refract a ray of light. The white surface seen on the chair (far right) allows Newton to observe that the ray of light has split into the different colours (spectrum) observed in rainbows. Newton failed to further split the colours, but later he remixed the colours using a lens and prism. Newton carried out this experiment while at Cambridge University, but the results were not known until he published the book Opticks in 1704. Newton is also famous for his general theory of gravitation, and for his mathematical discoveries.
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