Today we’re celebrating the the wonderful Find a Rainbow Day! An important, holy holiday in which we find some rainbows! YES!

Show Notes

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  • History + fun facts about the holiday
    • First “Find a Rainbow Day” was detected by whatnationaldayisit.com on 4/3/2015
      • Website provides a word cloud of the terms most associated with April 3. Their algorithms picked up 93 total unique days being shared on 4/3. A photo of the word cloud will be in the shownotes
    • Per Wikipedia: Rainbows are a meteorological phenomenon that are caused by reflection, refraction, and dispersion of light in water droplets resulting in a spectrum of light appearing in the sky, taking the form of a multicoloured circular arch
    • “Rainbow” is derived from the Latin arcus pluvius, or “rainy arch.”
    • Humankind has long been fascinated by the rainbow, so the history of it’s study is just as colorful, sort of. According to National Today and treehugger.com
      • The Greek epic poet Homer believed that rainbows were made of a single color: purple
      • Greek philosopher Xenophanes bestowed the rainbow with two more colors, saying that it was comprised of purple, yellow-green, and red. Aristotle agreed, saying “The rainbow has three colors, and these three, and not others.”
      • 1304–A german monk named Theodoric proposed that each raindrop in the sky causes refraction of the light. Prior to his hypothesis, Aristotle believed that refraction of light occurred due to an entire cloud
      • 1656–Descartes confirms Theodoric’s Hypothesis, additionally that refraction from several drops in the sky leads to a rainbow
      • 1666–Good old Sir Isaac Newton (had shitty eyes apparently) showed that white light is split into different colors due to refraction, and divided the spectrum into 5 main colors: red, yellow, green, blue, violet. Later added orange and indigo.
        • Sevenfold red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet, commonly remembered by the mnemonic Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain (ROYGBIV)
          • Chose to do 7 to be analogous to the number of notes in a music scale, inspired by beliefs of the ancient Greek sophists who thought there was a connection between the colours, musical notes, known objects in the Solar System, and the days of the week.
        • His “blue” would not be cyan, his “indigo” would now be considered blue
        • Dispersive prism–this is illustrated in that sickass Pink Floyd album cover
      • 1803–Thomas Young Explains: he showed that two different light waves can interfere constructively or destructively, which gives rise to bright or dark areas of the rainbow
        • Light behaves as a wave under certain conditions and can interfere with itself
    • Rainbows caused by sunlight always appear in the section of sky directly opposite the sun
    • A rainbow is not located at a specific distance from the observer, but comes from an optical illusion caused by any water droplets viewed from a certain angle relative to a light source
      • Optical illusion: cannot be touched 🙁
      • It is impossible for an observer to see a rainbow from water droplets at any angle other than the customary one of 42 degrees from the direction opposite the light source
    • Number of colours distinguishable to the human eye in a spectrum is in the order of 100
      • Recent research suggests that the number of distinct colours observed and what these are called depend on the language that one uses, with people whose language has fewer colour words seeing fewer discrete colour bands–thanks to “linguistic relativity”
      • Span a continuous spectrum of colours–distinct bands perceived are an artefact of human colour vision. No banding of any type is seen in a black/white photo, only a smooth gradation of intensity to a maximum, then fading towards the other side
      • https://www.flickr.com/photos/yahmdallah/6286509678/lightbox/
    • Variations
      • Double rainbow–most primary and secondary are visible. In theory, all rainbows are double rainbows, but the secondary is always fainter
      • Twinned rainbow–appears that 2 rainbow arcs split from a single base
      • Full-circle rainbow–every rainbow is a circle, but full circle can only be seen from a high viewpoint above the rainbow as water droplets must be present below the observer’s horizon
        • Possible to produce from the ground–spray water mist from a hose while facing away from the sun
      • Supernumerary rainbow aka stacker rainbow–one or several narrow, faintly coloured bands can be seen bordering the violet edge of a rainbow
      • Monochrome rainbow–occasionally a shower may happen at sunrise or sunset, where the shorter wavelengths like blue and green have been scattered and essentially removed from the spectrum. Further scattering may occur due to the rain, and the result can be the rare and dramatic monochrome or red rainbow
      • Higher-order rainbows–order of a rainbow is determined by the number of light reflections inside the water droplets that create it. More internal reflections cause bows of higher orders, theoretically unto infinity
        • In lab settings, it’s possible to create bows of much higher orders. Felix Billet (1808-1882) depicted angular positions up to the 19th order bow, a pattern he called “a rose of rainbows” (clever)
        • Ng et al. in 1998 produced up to the 200th order bow using an argon laser beam to produce extremely bright and well collimated (has parallel rays, spreading minimally as it propagates) light
      • Rainbows under moonlight–moonbow. Much dimmer and rarer than solar, requiring the moon to be near-full in order for them to be seen. Often perceived as white (human eyesight is shit, esp in low light) and may be thought of as monochrome. Long exposure photos will sometimes show the colour in this type of rainbow.
      • Fogbow–formed by much smaller cloud and fog droplets that diffract light extensively. Almost white with faint reds on the outside and blues inside; often one or more supernumerary bands can be discerned inside the inner edge. Sometimes appear with a glory (“saint’s halo) at the bow’s center
      • Circumhorizontal and circumzenithal arcs–two related optical phenomena similar in appearance to a rainbow, but their origin lies in light refraction through hexagonal ice crystals rather than liquid water droplets. They’re actually halos
      • Rainbows on Titan–It has been suggested that rainbows might exist on Saturn’s moon Titan, as it has a wet surface and humid clouds. Although visible rainbows may be rare due to Titan’s hazy skies, infrared rainbows may be more common, but an observer would need infrared night vision goggles to see them
      • Rainbows with different materials–droplets composed of materials with different refractive indices than plain water produce rainbows with different radius angles
    • World’s longest-lasting (/longest-observed) rainbow was seen over Sheffield, England on March 14, 1994 from 9a-3p
    • Mythology and symbolism
      • Peace and serenity; beautiful things often follow the darkest storms, transitional (life to death; storm to calm)
      • In general, seen as transcending the earthly realm, closes the gap between the physical and spiritual realms and allows for the possibility of communication (according to sunsigns.org)
        • Highway to Heaven–According to Christianity, a rainbow is a ray of light falling on the ground to guide a kind soul to the gates of heaven
        • In Greek and Roman times, it was believed that rainbows were a path created by the goddess Iris, linking us to the immortals. Greeks used the word “iris” to refer to any colored circle, thus the iris of the eye or the spot on the tail of a peacock. See also iris flower, chemical iridium, “iridescent”
        • In Norse mythology, the rainbow bridge Bifrost connects the world of men (Midgard) to the realm of the gods (Asgard)
      • Irish leprechauns’ secret hiding place for his pot of gold is said to be at the end of the rainbow (lucky charms)
      • Book of Genesis states that the rainbow is a sign of God’s covenant to never destroy all life on earth with a global flood again
      • A Bridge to Earth–According to Japanese myth, Isanagi and Isanami, first man and woman, created the first island, Onogoro, complete with birds and animals, while standing on a rainbow
      • Gender Bending–Until the 16th century, Europeans believed that anyone who passed under a rainbow would emerge as their opposite gender on the other end
    • In culture
      • Mario Kart–Rainbow Road is the final course of the Special Cup. Tracks are made of rainbow-colored glass or metallic surfaces that are either one color or change their color as racers pass by them. Most of them are transparent throughout the series
      • Rainbow bridge for lost pets–believed to have originated in several works of poetry from the 1980s and 90s meant to help relieve deceased pet owners of the pain of their loss
        • Perhaps the most well known: “Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge: https://www.rainbowsbridge.com/Poem.htm
          • Author is not “unknown,” actually Paul C. Dahm, a grief counselor in Oregon
        • May be based on Bifrost bridge
      • LGBT rainbow flag
        • Originally devised by SF artist Gilbert Baker
        • First flag had 8 color bands: hot pink for sex; red for life; orange for healing; yellow for sunlight; green for nature; turquoise for magic/art; indigo for serenity; violet for spirit
        • Most current proposed iteration by Daniel Quasar as of 2018
      • Archbishop Desmond Tutu and President Nelson Mandela described post-apartheid South Africa as the rainbow nation
      • Apple computers rainbow logo
      • “Double Rainbow” made infamous in meme culture by YouTuber Yosemitebear62 (originally Hungrybear9562, AKA Paul “Bear” Vasquez) from his viral video “Yosemite Mountain Double Rainbow 1-8-10” which now has over 45.8M views: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OQSNhk5ICTI
        • Jimmy Kimmel linked the video in a post on Twitter on 7/3/10–”Bear” appeared on JK on 7/26 and was awarded Video of the Year
        • The auto-tuned verson (Gregory Brothers, 7/5/10) has since gotten almost 39.5M views
        • “Bear” has since appeared in a commercial for Vodafone New Zealand, Jennifer Aniston’s ad for Smartwater, and the Slooh live broadcast of the Transit of Mercury–he felt the Transit had significant life meaning for him, like the day of the DR
          • “Slooh is a robotic telescope service that can be viewed live through a web browser with Flash plug-in”
          • Wikipedia: “Bear was able to provide a sense of wonder and joy that shows the deep connection people feel for the cosmos

Activities to celebrate

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  • National Today
    • Find a Rainbow
      This one is obvious. Head out and try finding a rainbow. Don’t limit yourself to the sky. Try finding rainbow colors anywhere you can.
    • Organize an LGBTQ Awareness Event
      Just like the colors of a rainbow, gender and sexuality can also be fluid and distributed across a spectrum. Use this holiday to organize an LGBTQ event in your school, neighborhood, or even your office.
    • Organize a Treasure Hunt
      The goal of the hunt is to find things with rainbow colors. The person who finds the most number of things wins.
  • DIY
  • Go to Hawaii–informal polling has determined that Hawaii is home to the most rainbows of any area on earth, due to frequent short mountain rain showers combine with sunshine year-round
    • “Rainbow capital of the world,” rainbow featured prominently on the license plate
  • FIND A RAINBOW custom Spotify playlist
    • “Over the Rainbow” on a “cat organ”
    • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GxEHi6Mlzmk
    • From Wikipedia: In 2010, Prince Charles was greatly amused by a performance of the tune “Over the Rainbow” on an instrument recreated using squeaky toy cats by Henry Dagg for a garden party held at Clarence House supporting Charles’s Start initiative for sustainable living


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