Discovering the Hidden Science of Everyday Wonders

By Sophia Maddox | April 12, 2024

What The Heck Are Rainbows?

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Cammie Czuchnicki via Royal Meteorological Society / Natural History Museum

Rainbows are nature's enchanting light shows, created by a delightful interplay of sunlight and raindrops. The science behind this colorful phenomenon is all about the refraction, dispersion, and reflection of light. When sunlight enters a raindrop, it slows down, bends, and then reflects off the inside surface of the drop. As it exits, the light is refracted again, separating into its various colors due to their different wavelengths. This mesmerizing separation of light creates the arching spectrum of colors we know as a rainbow, reminding us that even everyday rain can hide a vibrant splash of science and beauty in the sky.

Why Do Leaves Change Color in Autumn?

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Source: Google

In autumn, leaves undergo a mesmerizing transformation from green to a palette of vibrant reds, oranges, and yellows. This captivating phenomenon results from a delicate interplay of environmental factors, particularly the changing daylight and temperature. As the days grow shorter and cooler, trees receive signals to prepare for the impending winter. To conserve energy, they gradually halt the production of chlorophyll, the green pigment crucial for photosynthesis. As chlorophyll breaks down and diminishes, other pigments within the leaves, such as carotenoids (responsible for yellow and orange hues) and anthocyanins (creating red and purple shades), become more prominent. The specific colors and intensity of this autumnal spectacle vary with tree species, climate conditions, and soil properties, highlighting the blend of chemistry and biology that nature orchestrates, turning the transition of seasons into a breathtaking natural masterpiece.