21st July ’17: Squabbling over rainbows

Hello colour-lovers 🌈🌈🌈

The history of time is replete with tales of people disagreeing about things: money, religion, jam first or cream first on a scone. You name it, someone has doubtless squabbled over it. Except for rainbows, beautiful rainbows – surely?…Wrong. Sir Isaac Newton was the first person to officially deconstruct the rainbow into its composite colours (further developed by Moses Harris, see top left, in the 1700s). Nothing wrong with that, right? Poet John Keats didn’t seem to think so, accusing Newton (through the medium of poetry, natch) of taking the mystery and romance out of these natural multicoloured beauties. In ‘Lamia’, he laments that Newton has, through science, managed to ‘unweave’ the rainbow. Fast-forward a couple of hundred years and Richard Dawkins leaped to Newton’s defence, saying Keats was wrong and that ‘Science is, or ought to be, the inspiration for great poetry.’ Arguing about rainbows…honestly, people will be arguing about unicorns next.
Martha, The Colour File x 


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