Optical Mystery: Take 2

Where did the colour come from in these sparkly shots of a dew-dappled car hood? I don’t know.

It’s just another optical mystery. This is getting to be a habit.

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6 Responses to Optical Mystery: Take 2

  1. John Whitman says:

    Isabel – could it be that the water drops act in the same way as a prism when it comes to shortening or lengthening light rays through the color spectrum??
    Just wondering.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      John – Good guess. I was thinking the droplets were reflecting a colour from somewhere (and I couldn’t see any obvious candidate source), but it could “just” be refraction, which makes colours appear out of nowhere if I remember aright from my Grade 8 science class.

  2. Jim Taylor says:

    The links to the posts worked, even if the email didn’t.

    In response to John, yes, water droplets can and do act as light-benders. So they will split light into colours. They will also act as a magnifying glass — if you can get the focus right, and move fast enough before they drop — to enlarge tiny details.

    Water is a wonderful invention. I sometimes think of it as the ultimate invention.

    Jim T

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Jim T – I’ve seen some of those tiny reflections in photos, albeit not my own. Or not yet. 🙂 And I agree that water is a higher-order invention even than the wheel, which is saying something.

  3. The photo on the left appears to be reflecting a blue sky, which the moisture beads refract into the indigo-violet range. In the photo on the right, the camera seems to be positioned at a point where the car hood is not reflecting the blue of the sky but still is refracting the light on that spectrum out of the violet range but in the yellow-green range. Zooming in reveals the tiny diamond sparkles of the sunlight reflecting off the surface of the beads. Magical!

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Laurna – Well, it is magical. We need an optics specialist on the payroll. Or we could just enjoy it!

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