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Perspective and Illusion

52 53 raInbows anD moonbows you never see a rainbow from the side A rainbow or its rarer nocturnal sister, a moonbow is a great analogue of precisely how little we see of the world. That thin ribbon of coloured light is itself an accurate snapshot of the tiny slice of the electromagnetic spectrum that our senses pick up in any detail. The rest of the spectrum which is most of it we are blind to, and today fill with radio, phone, and internet signals, using digital white noise whose only natural parallel is radioactive decay. Most things we can see are not really there, atoms being almost entirely empty space, but rainbows and lunar halos lower opposite are particularly thoughtprovoking because they really arent there at all. Or are they Like the ladder of light you see across the ocean at sunset which always points just to you, rainbows are always centred, exactly facing each individual, in a different place in the world for each observer, a kind of inversion of normal perspective and a beautiful reminder of the relativistic nature of perception. from Newtons Opticks, 1704
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