Thursday, March 05, 2009

Rainbows are relative...

For those of you who were driving East on the 10 freeway at approximately 4:20 on Wednesday, you saw it. The biggest, brightest, gay as a daisy rainbow shamelessly straddling the motorway with one end anchored on a gleaming white tower in Century City and the other settling somewhere in Compton or thereabouts. The dark emptying clouds provided a perfect backdrop and amplified the colors tenfold. I've never seen anything so amazingly fake-looking in my life. Spielberg would have rejected it as kitsch.

I called Sarah and told her to go outside for a viewing (she's on Wilshire). But then I wondered - are rainbows fixed physical entities or are they strictly viewer centric?

Oh Wikipedia, what did we do without you?

A rainbow does not actually exist at a particular location in the sky. Its apparent position depends on the observer's location and the position of the sun. All raindrops refract and reflect the sunlight in the same way, but only the light from some raindrops reaches the observer's eye. This light is what constitutes the rainbow for that observer. The position of a rainbow in the sky is always in the opposite direction of the Sun with respect to the observer, and the interior is always slightly brighter than the exterior.

Incidentally, Chris Burden's pot of gold at Gagosian was canceled. Did you hear?

("The City" by Liz Hickok)


Blogger Squirrel said...

could she see the rainbow too?

11:31 AM  
Blogger pigatschmo said...

I recently got into a conversation about this very phenomenon and came to the opposite conclusion: that rainbows are as solid as gruyere cheese and set in fixed locations.

8:12 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home