Question #ef516

1 Answer
Nov 17, 2016

Different wavelengths.


White light is actually a combination of several different wavelengths of light. Let's use the illustration of paint. If you mix two colors, the result will be a darker color. If you keep adding paint, the color will get darker and darker until it becomes something close to black, or a very dark brown. This occurs because the paint is absorbing all the shining on it, so none of it is reflected back in the form of a certain color.

With light however, the effect is the opposite. If you add two colors, you'll get a new lighter color. Keep doing this and you'll eventually get (drumroll please)...white light.

So back to your question. :) Now that we know what white light is, it makes sense that when you refract it through a prism, you get a variety of colors. All the different colors each have different energy levels: violet being higher energy and red being lower energy. These different energy levels translate to different wavelengths of light, and these different wavelengths translate to different colors perceived by the human eye.