Scientists create new rainbow colors – but Not Today!

Electrons periodically recollide with holes, creating periodic flashes of light – Credit – Peter Allen, UCSB

No, I have not swtched to blogging science – and I’m sure that the scientific community at large thanks me for persevering with design!  But I wanted to follow up on a post about pink being “insvisble” for those of you who might be feeling a bit too comfortable with gleaning all your information for DIY projects from the Internet.

I had noticed a number of articles that had peppered cyberspace at the end of March. The articles about tearing electrons from atoms by mixing two lasers, reported that as an unexpected consequence this experiment had created 11 new colors previously unknown. At first glance this sounded phenomenal – then I remember logic – how could this be true?

Internal struggles are such a waste of time. So rather than try to sort out truth fom fiction in a bubble, I went the source. The member of Mark Sherwin’s research team at UCSB who was quoted  was Physicist Ben Zaks. I decided I had nothing less to know by giving him a call, and asking if any of this could be true, and if so would he share the colors?

So I a left a message asking if he would be willing to fill me in. Somewhat to my surprise, Ben called me back – I have the strangest conversations at Wegmans!

It seems the press to Ben’s statement entirely out of context (not a first or last discretion to be sure) . He was nice enough to provide a sound bite via email, to put the matter to rest:

“Well as we discussed a few days ago, there unfortunately are no “new” colors produced by this experiment.  All colors that have been observed are colors that have been seen before, and are in fact, quite easy to produce.  In the experiments performed, we start with 2 wavelengths and end with 13 different wavelengths, so the “new” colors are the additional wavelengths that we did not originally start with, they are no “new” in the sense that they have never been seen.  The experiment is interesting because of the way the light is produced, but that is for another blog!  Sorry artists, you will have to keep waiting to extend your palette.”
Best, Ben Zaks

And there you have it. I have a couple of precepts learned the hard way many moons ago when it comes to project planning, specs, and DIY – NEVER take anything at face value!

Read what’s being said, watch your DIY video, or Home and Garden TV show of choice, then make a list of questions that were not answered and materials that were not specified – especially if you are doing something you have not tried before!

You know that old adage about the word ASSUME – it doesn’t just make an ass out of u and me; it wastes monet, time, and in some cases can compromise safety. We’ll leave of here, and pick up the asking questions thread in the next installment of that basement family room getting a green makeover! More to come….