Co-Founder, Admin Director, InnovaSpace
In 1666, while self-isolating at his manor house in Woolsthorpe, Lincolnshire due to the Great Plague, Sir Isaac Newton proved, using a prism, that white light was actually formed of a composition of different colours.
Centuries later, Barry Ressler (Founder, President & CEO of Star Associates Inc. & CEO of ISMC Inc.) was running a series of Monochromatic UV germicidal experiments when, by chance, he also created some fascinating colourful images. He placed a data DVD near a window covered by a shade during the exposures for the experiment he was conducting. On the top of the DVD, Ressler placed a prism and a quartz spacer. When the shade was opened, the angle of the rays of the sun onto the DVD surface reflected through the prism and quartz onto a wall, resulting in the astonishing creation of Image 1.
When light moves from one medium to another, some rays reflect or bounce back within an object made of glass or a quartz-like material. This was clearly demonstrated by his experiment, which showed the behaviour of light as the rays bounced around the room to reveal the proper wavelength of different colours of light in the visible light spectrum.
Ressler captured the beauty of these interesting images using a digital 16MP Hasselblad "V" system with 50mm lens. The pictures also showed another interesting property of the quartz, as it can make one side of the object look like a mirror.
This is seen in Image 2, in which the red at the top of the quartz appears because of this mirror effect, reflecting the red from the base off the top of the quartz, while also refracting or bending the light to create the curved shape that can be seen.
And Image 3 is such a thing of beauty, where you can almost pick out all of the colours of the visible spectrum of light, which have been memorised in the correct order by school children of many generations, using the well-known mnemonic – ROYGBIV – for example, richard-of-york-gave-battle-in-vain, signifying the colours in order: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet.
Barry Ressler confessed though that the images happened completely by chance, as he placed the prism and quartz spacer inadvertently on top of the data DVD.
A fortunate case of serendipity that led to some stunning photos, and a not uncommon happening in the world of invention and discovery, whereby a little ‘luck’ or an ‘accident’ has led to an addition to the scientific knowledge. Just imagine if Dr Wilhelm Roentgen, Professor of Physics in Wurzburg, Bavaria, had not ‘accidently’ discovered X-rays while testing whether cathode rays could pass through glass! The first X-ray image ever was of his wife's hand, complete with ring, and his invention led him to become the first ever winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1901.
The three prism and light images used in this blog, with the kind permission of Barry Ressler, first appeared and remain to this day on the American Physical Society Site - Physics Central, where the photos have met with a good deal of interest.