In 1665-1666, Isaac Newton studied sunlight and discovered that
it could be broken down into a rainbow of colors by a prism. Today,
we know that the rainbow of colors one gets from a prism is a consequence
and the different wavelengths of different colors. "White"
sunlight is not really white-there is no wavelength of light that
is white. Rather, it is a mixture of many different colors that
appears white to our brains after being processed by our eyes.
In the same way that the sun can produce light of many different
wavelengths that appears white when mixed, televisions
and computer screens
also mix light to produce different colors. If you examine your
computer screen or television with a magnifying glass, you will
see tiny dots, probably red, green and blue. By mixing these colors
in different amounts, a large range of colors can be produced. [applet!]
Did you know that long before color television was invented, artists
did the same thing? The pointillists and post-impressionistic artists
painted with many many little tiny dots of color. Up close, their
paintings didn't appear to be anything, but when you stepped back
and let your eye mix the dots into other colors, you would see the
subject of painting. By letting the eye mix the colors, they were
able to achieve a brighter, more vibrant palette.