Rainbows Start

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QuartZ & Rainbows

Sunlight passing through raindrops causes rainbows via a process called refraction, which is the bending of light as it passes from one medium to another. This is analagous to pushing a shopping cart at the edge of a parking lot: if the wheels on one side roll off the pavement onto an adjacent area of grass, the cart will start to turn toward the grass. This is because the wheels moving on the pavement are able to roll faster than the wheels on the grass.

In the case of a rainbow, when sunlight hits a raindrop it does not move as fast through the water as it does through the atmosphere, so it bends a little. The light then turns again as it moves out of the raindrop and back into the air at its original speed. When light hits the rain at just the right angle, it is refracted through a raindrop and into our eyes, causing us to see a rainbow. But how does the "white" sunlight produce a multicolored rainbow? Sunlight, or "white" light, is actually made up of continuous bands of different colored light--red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet.

Each color has a different wavelength, or frequency, which refracts slightly differently when it passes from one medium to another.

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As a result, white light can be broken up into its component colors by being passed through certain medium. For example, a prism can also create rainbows because the glass, like the raindrop, bends the different colors of light at slightly different angles. Longer wavelengths are bent at larger angles, so longer wavelengths are bent less than shorter wavelengths.

When sunlight hits a raindrop, the red light waves are bent at an angle of 42 degrees from their original direction from the sun. Shorter violet light waves are only bent at an angle of 40 degrees.

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The other colored light frequencies are bent at angles in between these two. This is why we see rainbows as a continuous band of colors with red on top and violet on the bottom. Of course, they had six kids. Here was another covered viewing platform, where we took time out to sample some local specialties: freshly cracked macadamia nuts, plus longan fruit, related to lychee.

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Our final waterfall was Kulaniapia, situated on a private resort of the same name, also on Waiau Stream. We munched sandwiches on a balcony overlooking the waterfall before wandering down a grassy path lined by tiny magenta orchids and big stands of bamboo.


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This is usually a safer stream than the Wailuku River, and at the base of the waterfall on quieter days, tour-goers can swim, kayak or go stand-up paddleboarding beneath the spray. Resort guests regularly rappel down the foot waterfall. Our hotel manager had advised that it was possible to hike down from the viewpoint to swim near the falls.

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However, I wanted to see a wild waterfall on my own, so from Boiling Pots we continued up Waianuenue Avenue for. After crossing a bridge, we parked on the shoulder and spied a narrow path just beyond the bridge on the upriver side of the road. Here, another sign warned of flash flooding during rainstorms.

But the sky was blue. I sat on a rock, basked in the sun and listened to the roar of my own private waterfall for five minutes. Then it was time to head back to town. My soul was, indeed, nourished. But it was still time for lunch. Hire a resort guide to help you rappel down its face; waterfall. For a quieter time, visit Hilo on a day without cruise ships in port. Check crew-center.

Guide to more Big Island waterfalls: lovebigisland. Share story. By Brian J. Most Read Life Stories McDonald's is tardy to the chicken-sandwich party with a spicy entry that can't touch Popeyes' Forge a knife from a horseshoe?

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