Unweaving Star Rainbows:
bridges to the hidden beauty of the Universe
Unaware of the treasure concealed within beautiful colours, the majestic display of the rainbow has marvelled human minds of all times. Far from destroying the apparent beauty of the rainbow, as the poet once suggested to Newton, modern science reveals beauty never suspected. In this lecture we reproduce live the experiments that gave birth to astrophysics. This is the science that developed clever ‘rainbow-unweaving machines’ attached to powerful telescopes to find out not only what the stars are made of, but which ones have planets around them. On the grandest scale, unwoven rainbows from distant galaxies lead cosmologists to calculate the age of the Universe. How will this knowledge affect the beauty of the next rainbow that we see in the sky?
This lecture includes simple demonstrations of prism dispersion, the Doppler effect and live flame spectroscopy, requiring a table and a multipoint mains power supply. There must be also a connection between a video camera (supplied by the lecturer) and the data projector. There are also sound effects to be amplified.
Duration and Age group
This lecture lasts about 50 minutes and it is aimed at audiences older than 12 years, but can be adapted to younger ones.