Everyone knows how magical and mystical rainbows are. These natural wonders bring delight to those who witness them and joy to the rainiest of days, and then, of course, there’s the pot of gold at the end!
Rainbows have inspired people since the beginning of time, from early Greek poets and philosophers to cultural myth and modern-day science. One such culture is the Irish: as legend has it, if you catch a leprechaun, he’ll be forced to tell you where exactly he hid his pot of gold. This myth has inspired an entire category of popular online slots, where players go in search of their own pot of gold in games like Luck O’ The Rainbow, with some naughty little leprechauns, beautiful rainbows, and incredible game features keeping them company.
But did you know that rainbows aren’t actually magic? They’re physics! Let’s take a look at more colourful facts you might not have known about these natural phenomena.
The physics of rainbows
Scientists have been studying the physics behind rainbows for 400 years! They’ve discovered that this meteorological phenomenon is caused by the reflection (mirroring), refraction (change in direction) and dispersion of light in water droplets, which result in a spectrum of light in the form of a multicoloured arc appearing in the sky. Each raindrop, therefore, acts as both a prism and a mirror.
In a primary rainbow, light passes through the droplets of water, reflects inside the droplet and bounces back into the air again. The different wavelengths that combine to make daylight are refracted by different amounts, causing the various colours that we see. Enjoy the full majesty of these candy-coloured arches in Rainbow Jackpots, one of Mecca Bingo’s colourful daily jackpots.
10 fun facts about rainbows
- While the Latin “arcus pluvius” means “rainy arch” and refers to what we know as a rainbow, the word rainbow comes from the old English “renboga,” which is derived from “regn,” meaning “rain” and “boga,” meaning “bent or arched.”
- Rainbows have appeared prominently in myths and religions over a variety of cultures throughout history. In Ancient Greek and Roman times, it was widely believed that the goddess of rainbows, Iris, created rainbows as a path between spirit and earth, linking humans with immortals. It wasn’t until the 17th century that people had any real idea of what a rainbow actually was.
- Before science, the workings of a rainbow were left purely to speculation by philosophers and explained through myth and stories. The Greek poet Homer believed that rainbows were made only of the colour purple. Xenophanes elaborated by saying that they were composed of purple, yellow-green, and red; Aristotle agreed with this. During the Renaissance, it was decided that there were four colours. However, 17th-century Western thinkers agreed that they consisted of red, yellow, green, blue, and purple. In 1637 René Descartes discovered that rainbows were caused by light from the sun being split into various colours by rain, and in 1666, Isaac Newton added indigo and orange to give us the widely accepted version we know today. In actuality, there are no distinctive colours in a rainbow as each hue blends into the other, leaving it purely up to the eye of the beholder to interpret.
- Rainbows technically don’t exist as they are optical illusions, but we can assure you the potential prizes you could win in games like Rainbow Cash Pots are very, very real.
- Rainbows occur not only during rain but anywhere light meets water in the sky, including mist, waterfalls, fog and seaspray.
- Because of the weather conditions, rainbows are most sighted in Hawaii, giving it the nickname “The Rainbow State,” with Honolulu known as “The Rainbow Capital of the World.”
- Double rainbows appear when light bounces inside the water droplet more than once before escaping, reversing the spectrum of the second arch.
- The space between a rainbow and its double is darker because light reflected in raindrops in this part of the sky doesn’t reach the observer. Alexander’s band is the technical word for this space; it was named after Alexander of Aphrodisias, who first described it in 200 AD.
- The longest-lasting rainbow was seen over Sheffield, England, on March 14, 1994. Viewers observed this rainbow from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. – a total of six hours!
- The top-rated and most viewed rainbow-related video on YouTube is Israel “IZ” Kamakawiwoʻole’s ukulele rendition of “Over the Rainbow,” with 1.1 billion views at the start of 2022. For more popular rainbow wonder, be sure to give Unicorn Bliss a spin.
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