Monday February 24, 2014
Traffic looks like fireworks when viewed through diffraction glasses. You can pick up diffraction glasses for pretty cheap online - they’re popular as a trippy party effect. But you can also think of them as giving you the superpower of spectrometer vision, the ability to tell apart different kinds of white light that normally look identical to human eyes. It’s a minor superpower, to be sure.
But how these glasses work is they’ve got diffraction gratings over each eye, which act like thin flexible prisms to spread out white light into its spectrum of colors. With sunlight, halogen, and incandescent light bulbs, you get the familiar rainbow, one smooth blur of all the colors from red to blue. But with many other kinds of light bulbs, such as the new Xenon high-intensity discharge headlights, you can see that a lot of the colors are missing from the rainbow, leaving dark gaps between the remaining colors.