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Experiment : colours of light

Aim:

To investigate the additive properties of colours and determine the complementary colours of light.

Apparatus:

You will need two battery operated torches with flat bulb fronts, a large piece of white paper, and some pieces of cellophane paper of the following colours: red, blue, green, yellow, cyan, magenta. (You should easily be able to get these from a newsagents.)

Make a table in your workbook like the one below:

Colour 1 Colour 2 Final colour prediction Final colour measured
red blue
red green
green blue
magenta green
yellow blue
cyan red

Before you begin your experiment, use what you know about colours of light to write down in the third column "Final colour prediction", what you think the result of adding the two colours of light will be. You will then be able to test your predictions by making the following measurements:

Method:

Proceed according to the table above. Put the correct colour of cellophane paper over each torch bulb. e.g. the first test will be to put red cellophane on one torch and blue cellophane on the other. Switch on the torch with the red cellophane over it and shine it onto the piece of white paper.

What colour is the light?

Turn off that torch and turn on the one with blue cellophane and shine it onto the white paper.

What colour is the light?

Now shine both torches with their cellophane coverings onto the same spot on the white paper. What is the colour of the light produced? Write this down in the fourth column of your table.

Repeat the experiment for the other colours of cellophane so that you can complete your table.

Questions:

  1. How did your predictions match up to your measurements?
  2. Complementary colours of light are defined as the colours of light which, when added to one of the primary colours, produce white light. From your completed table, write down the complementary colours for red, blue and green.

Complementary colours

Complementary colours are two colours of light which add together to give white.

Investigation : complementary colours for red, green and blue

Complementary colours are two colours which add together to give white. Place a tick in the box where the colours in the first column added to the colours in the top row give white.

magenta yellow cyan
(=red+blue) (=red+green) (=blue+green)
red
green
blue

You should have found that the complementary colours for red, green and blue are:

  • Red and Cyan
  • Green and Magenta
  • Blue and Yellow

Perception of colour

The light-sensitive lining on the back inside half of the human eye is called the retina. The retina contains two kinds of light sensitive cells or photoreceptors : the rod cells (sensitive to low light) and the cone cells (sensitive to normal daylight) which enable us to see. The rods are not sensitive to colour but work well in dimly lit conditions. This is why it is possible to see in a dark room, but it is hard to see any colours. Only your rods are sensitive to the low light levels and so you can only see in black, white and grey. The cones enable us to see colours.Normally, there are three kinds of cones, each containing a different pigment. The cones are activated when the pigments absorb light. The three types of cones are sensitive to (i.e. absorb) red, blue and green light respectively. Therefore we can perceive all the different colours in the visible spectrum when the different types of cones are stimulated by different amounts since they are just combinations of the three primary colours of light.

The rods and cones have different response times to light. The cones react quickly when bright light falls on them. The rods take a longer time to react. This is why it takes a while (about 10 minutes) for your eyes to adjust when you enter a dark room after being outside on a sunny day.

Interesting fact

Color blindness in humans is the inability to perceive differences between some or all colors that other people can see. Most often it is a genetic problem, but may also occur because of eye, nerve, or brain damage, or due to exposure to certain chemicals. The most common forms of human color blindness result from problems with either the middle or long wavelength sensitive cone systems, and involve difficulties in discriminating reds, yellows, and greens from one another. This is called "red-green color blindness". Other forms of color blindness are much rarer. They include problems in discriminating blues from yellows, and the rarest forms of all, complete color blindness or monochromasy, where one cannot distinguish any color from grey, as in a black-and-white movie or photograph.

run demo

When blue and green light fall on an eye, is cyan light being created? Discuss.

  1. Cyan light is not created when blue and green light fall on the eye. The blue and green receptors are stimulated to make the brain believe that cyan light is being created.

Got questions? Get instant answers now!

Colours on a television screen

If you look very closely at a colour cathode-ray television screen or cathode-ray computer screen, you will see that there are very many small red, green and blue dots called phosphors on it. These dots are caused to fluoresce (glow brightly) when a beam of electrons from the cathode-ray tube behind the screen hits them. Since different combinations of the three primary colours of light can produce any other colour, only red, green and blue dots are needed to make pictures containing all the colours of the visible spectrum.

Colours of light

  1. List the three primary colours of light.
  2. What is the term for the phenomenon whereby white light is split up into its different colours by a prism?
  3. What is meant by the term “complementary colour” of light?
  4. When white light strikes a prism which colour of light is refracted the most and which is refracted the least? Explain your answer in terms of the speed of light in a medium.

Questions & Answers

25 element of physics
musah Reply
an object will remain at rest or move at a constant velocity unless acted upon a net force
Lebogang Reply
thank you
Thabiso
law of inertia
Joan
an object resisting the change in velocity.
Thabiso
What is a molecule
Thabiso Reply
a molecule is a simplest structure unite of an elements
Else
thank you
Thabiso
Plz remind me the 1st Newton's law
Thabiso
Define the term functinal group of an organic compound
Kamvelihle Reply
a single atom or a group of atoms which is responsible for the property and function of an organic compound
Shandre
thanks😊
Kamvelihle
What's the relationship between intensity and the current?
Lufuno Reply
yu are Spi.ke spanish hola ele
Rolamf
cómo se llama el video donde disquete salgo yo
Rolamf
The intensity doesn't effect the current.
Mosa
what does the word emitted mean?
Mwinga Reply
to be ejected or released
Khathutshelo
Ok thanks
Mwinga
Released
Mosa
what are the hooke laws
Tyriek Reply
what's that
Mosa
what do really asked in exam
Leiyo Reply
questions
Kamvelihle
lmaooo
itsssjust
hi please help me how to balance redox reactions?
Brian Reply
Which equation do u wanna balance
Rifumo
i tried to write it but my phone just can't write it Cr2 O72-(aq) + H2S (aq) Cr3 (aq) + S(s)
Brian
show is the equation
Pride
us
Pride
hello. what is the difference between a primary, secondary and tertiary alcohol
Thokozani Reply
primary the C=bonded to 1 Carbon atom.... secondary=bonded to 2 carbon atoms tertiary=bonded to 3 carbon atoms
Christina
I hope you're answered
Christina
thanks Christina
Baningi
My pleasure
Christina
Thank you Christina. This is very helpful 😀👍👍💯
Thokozani
💯💯
Thokozani
Anytime Thokozani
Christina
How to calculate pH?
Thabo
thank you guys i didn't know about the primary, secondary and tertiary alcohols
Brian
thank you Christina
Brian
Hey guys which topic does AC nd DC generator falls
Phumelele
electrodynamics
Christina
thank you
Phumelele
can somebody help me with functional isomers
Baningi Reply
function isomer has the same molecular formula but different functional group
Thokozani
what's momentum
Luvelo Reply
the product of an objects mass times velocity. it is mainly prevalent in collisions.
tyrique
momentum
Sesethu
in order to produce an interference pattern, the waves used must be what?
Methane contains C and H. This compound is
Juan Reply
ketones's functional group
Moloi Reply
Why does the carboxyl group have acidc properties?
Evi Reply
carboxylic acids
tyrique

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Source:  OpenStax, Siyavula textbooks: grade 12 physical science. OpenStax CNX. Aug 03, 2011 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11244/1.2
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