Complex beauty

This is an image from the web: it was taken by Gerald Brown in 2007—a sunset at Knysna, South Africa. I love the colors and magic.


It is used in a Wikipedia article on Mie scattering, which summarizes the physics behind as follows:

“The change of sky colour at sunset (red nearest the sun, blue furthest away) is caused by Rayleigh scattering by atmospheric gas particles, which are much smaller than the wavelengths of visible light. The grey/white colour of the clouds is caused by Mie scattering by water droplets, which are of a comparable size to the wavelengths of visible light.”

I find it amazing how such simple explanation can elucidate such fascinating complexity and beauty. Stuff like this triggered my interest in physics—as a child. I am 50+ now. My explanations are more precise now: I now understand what Rayleigh and/or Mie scattering of light actually is.

The best thing about that is that it does not reduce the wonder. On the contrary. It is like the intricate colors and pattern of the human eye. Knowing that it is just “the pigmentation of the eye’s iris and the frequency-dependence of the scattering of light by the turbid medium in the stroma of the iris” (I am quoting from Wikipedia once more) does not make our eyes any less beautiful, isn’t it?

I actually do not understand why mainstream quantum physicists try to mystify things. I find reality mysterious enough already.

One thought on “Complex beauty”

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