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Rainbows

White-1342988_640Did you ever see a rainbow in the distance and wonder if there really is a pot of gold at its end? How did that story get started?

Legend has it that many years ago the Vikings lived in Ireland and plundered the Emerald Isle at will. Leprechauns took the gold the Vikings were after and buried it all over the isle to protect it. The leprechauns were given special powers and have been guarding the gold ever since. Ever wonder why no one has ever found that pot of gold at the end of every rainbow?

The truth is that no one has ever gotten to the end of a rainbow because rainbows are simply reflections, refractions and dispersions of light off water droplets in the atmosphere. They are really optical illusions; you cannot get close to one because it moves in relation to your distance from it. As you try to move closer, it appears to move further away. 

It’s also true that no two people can see a rainbow exactly the same, because a rainbow is affected by your height, viewing angle, and distance from the horizon. When light strikes a water droplet, it is reflected then refracted and dispersed back to us in the form of a light spectrum like a prism. When a light source is behind you and water droplets are ahead, your odds of seeing a rainbow are much increased. 

Remember the old mnemonic we learned as kids to help us remember the colors and the order of the colors? Some people were taught “Richard of York battled in vain” while others learned the name Roy G Biv, to represent red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. Those colors are always in that order from top to bottom, because red has the longest light wavelength and violet the shortest to represent the visible spectrum of light.

Somehow, this all seems too scientific. Maybe Kermit the frog had it right in the song “Rainbow Connection”:

“Why are there so many songs about rainbows

And what's on the other side?

Rainbows are visions

But only illusions

And rainbows have nothing to hide.

So we've been told

And some choose to believe it.

I know they're wrong, wait and see.

Some day we'll find it,

The rainbow connection,

The lovers, the dreamers, and me.”

As for me, I’ll keep trying to find the gold. How about you?

Jeff Bellomo, Esq., Bellomo & Associates

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