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Still Waters

How many colours are really in a rainbow?

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It’s no secret that white light is the light that we see when all the colors shine together and are seen at once. This has been known for over 400 years, when Isaac Newton demonstrated that white light could be broken up into all the known colors by dispersing it through a prism.

All that we’re doing is breaking white light — in this case, sunlight — up into all of its component colors. This can be done artificially (such as by configuring a prism) or naturally (in the case of a rainbow), and covers wavelengths both inside and outside what our eyes can perceive.

http://scienceblogs....y-in-a-rainbow/

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I think the next fits in nicely with your post, SW:

(...)

As well as seeing very well in the ultraviolet, all bird species that have been studied have at least four types of cone. They have four, not three, dimensional colour vision. Recent studies have confirmed tetra-chromacy in some fish and turtles, so perhaps we should not be surprised about this. It is mammals, including humans, that have poor colour vision! Whilst UV reception increases the range of wavelengths over which birds can see, increased dimensionality produces a qualitative change in the nature of colour perception that probably cannot be translated into human experience. Bird colours are not simply refinements of the hues that humans, or bees, see, these are hues unknown to any trichromat.

http://www.bristol.ac.uk/biology/research/behaviour/vision/4d.html

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