Newton and the Colors

Newton and the light scattering experiment.

Newton was an English scientist, physicist and mathematician widely recognized for his numerous works in the field of mechanics. However, he was not limited to this branch of physics. In the year 1672, he published a work in which he presented ideas about the colors of bodies. After approximately three and a half centuries, the ideas proposed by this scientist are still accepted today.
Through a simple experiment Isaac Newton noticed the dispersion of white light, that is, he managed to visualize that if it focused on a glass prism, totally polished, it would give rise to countless other colors. It was from there that this scientist began his studies on the colors of bodies. Many years before Newton, there was already the idea that white light gave rise to a colored beam when it passed through a glass prism. However, at that time there was the idea that the appearance of colors from white light happened due to the impurities that it received when it fell on the glass prism.

Isaac Newton, curious to find out why such an event occurred, took a fully polished prism and placed it in front of a hole he had made in his bedroom window. With this feat, he realized that the white light, coming from the Sun, was dispersed in colored beams and to this set of colors he called spectrum .. Newton was not in favor of the idea that this color appeared due to impurities existing in the prism. So he performed a new experiment where he let only one color pass through a second prism. With that, he verified that it did not add anything to the beam of light that fell on him. In this way, the physicist hypothesized that light was not pure, but formed by mixing or superimposing all the colors of the spectrum, and also concluded that light decomposes because of the refraction it undergoes when passing from one medium to another. another with different refractive indices.

In addition to studying the scattering of light, Newton theorized about the colors of bodies. According to him “the colors of all bodies are due simply to the fact that they reflect the light of a certain color in greater quantity than others .” This theory met with great opposition in the scientific community, a fact that led Isaac Newton to publish his works on optics only many years later.

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