Rush Out After a Rainstorm And Discover That Rainbow

Back when I was no taller than a fence post, I used to rush outside after the frequent east Texas rainstorms just in case there was a rainbow in the sky.

Nothing can brighten a day more quickly than the sight of vibrant colors arching elegantly across the clearing sky. Of course, I heard the stories about pots of gold at the end of the rainbow. But it was enough for me just to stare up at the amazing color appearing magically where dark clouds hung only a few hours before.

Another one of my favorite activities - then and now - is blowing bubbles. I love watching them glide through the air and imagining myself floating up into the sky along with them.

It took years, but one day I noticed that my bubbles had tiny rainbows shining through their surfaces.

Many more years passed before I finally learned what causes rainbows. It turns out that a rainbow is a pattern of colors made by sunlight when it is bent by water droplets in the air. (This pattern of colors is also called a spectrum.) The colors are always there, but we don't see them until the light bends.

So where do the different colors of a rainbow come from?

Well, each of the colors in light bends at a different angle, and the colors in light spread out next to each other, according to Ann McMahon, the ''Science Lady'' and one of the authors of ''Bubble Rainbows,'' a book explaining the science behind rainbows.

I never dreamed of being a scientist when I was growing up. But the Science Lady says all it takes to become a scientist is an interest in how things work and why things are the way they are.

''A scientist's job is to ask and answer questions,'' she says. ''The most important thing it takes to become a scientist is curiosity. The very act of wondering how the world works is what scientists do.''

Although I never noticed it before, the Science Lady says the colors of a rainbow always appear in the same order. The Science Lady introduced me to a character named Roy G. Biv to help me remember the order of the colors in a rainbow. Each letter in Roy's name stands for a color: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet.

Even though I now know how rainbows come to be, I haven't let it spoil any of the magic of looking up in the sky and discovering an arch of color brightening a dreary day.

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