Newton’s Disc, Its History and Benefits



What is Newton’s disc?

Newton’s disc, also known as the disappeared colour disc, is a well known physical experiment using a rotating disk with segments of different colours. Newton’s colour disc, as the name suggests, was invented by Sir Isaac Newton and is a seven-part disk in rainbow colours. It is a mixture of seven different colors found in the rainbow which are violet, indigo, blue, green, yellow, orange and red.

In layman terms, a Newton’s disc is a pie-shaped combination of colour on a disk. When you rotate it very quickly, you see the colours blend into a whole white disk. This phenomenon can also be described as adding colour. When the colours rotate very quickly, their reflection will blend with each other and create the highest total, the white colour that human eyes can perceive.

How does Newton’s disc work?

It rotates the dial so quickly that the colors are displayed in very short intervals as if they were in the same place. When adding the colour values ​​to each of them, the most viewable representation you can get is white. When the dial is rotated, the colors fade to white. In this way, Sir Isaac Newton explained that white light is a mixture of seven different colors found in a rainbow. Use two prisms to split a beam of white light into its coloured components, then reassemble it into a beam of white light again.

Newton Disc

Make your own disc to see how it works:-

  • You will need a standard piece of printer paper, an equivalent size piece of cardboard, glue, masking tape, scissors, a hole punch, a ruler, a pencil, and a colouring source. Choose your colouring source. You can choose to colour the disc with crayons, markers, coloured pencils, or paint. You will need all the colors of the rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet.
  • Cut paper and cardboard into equal sized circles. To do this, you can trace a circular object with a pencil, use a drawing compass, or print a circle from a computer the larger your circle the more difficult it is to create disk effects. Glue the piece of paper to the cardboard.
  • Divide the circle into seven equal triangles. Use your ruler and pencil to draw lines on the circle. Colour each of the seven sections a different colour. Colour the sections in the following colors in this order: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. You will need to poke a hole in the centre of the disc. Move the disc onto a pencil. Apply tape around the pencil, one inch above and below the disk. This will prevent the wheel from wobbling the pencil while it is spinning.
  • When you spin the dial faster, you’ll start to see the colors mixed, and they’ll blend together and appear white. If you don’t see this happening, try spinning the dial faster.

History of Newton’s Disc

Newton began projecting light onto a wall before fixing his prism and shining a light on a blank sheet. This produced an extended image of the sun, which was mainly white, but had a blue top edge and a red bottom edge. In his second experiment, he shone light through a narrow slit in the shutters, thereby achieving the now fashionable multi coloured range. A painting at the BOA Museum shows Newton allowing light, via a prism, to reveal the spectrum on a piece of white card placed on a chair.

On his return to Cambridge, Newton was unusually open about his discovery, showing the prism experiment in front of his peers and showing that colors can be recombined to form white light. On February 6, 1671, Isaac Newton wrote a paper on the experiments he had been carrying out since 1666 with light being refracted through glass prisms. He concluded that the different refracted light rays – well separated from others – could not be changed by further refraction, nor by reflection, or any other means, except through mixing with other rays. Thus, he found the seven basic colors, which are red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, purple and indigo. When mixing coloured rays from a prism, it was found that the most surprising and wonderful combination was the whiteness that required mixing all the primary colors in appropriate proportions. He gave a detailed explanation of his discoveries in public lectures between 1669 and 1671 and in a paper to the Royal Society in 1672. In 1675, he presented another paper describing other experiments with thinness. Films and panels, which put forward a particle theory of light that was surprisingly similar to the modern theory of light quantities.

In his book Opticks, Newton described a device with a saw, a lens, and a large moving comb with teeth that caused alternating colour to display in series. But if I speed up the movement so much that the colors cannot be distinguished due to their rapid succession, the individual colors cease to appear. There was neither red, nor yellow, nor green, nor blue, nor purple appeared anymore, but from the confusion of all of them appeared a Uniform white colour. Newton noticed that the same principle is visible in the way that the suds display colors when viewed up close but appear white from a small distance. Although a mixture of powder pigments from the primary colors appeared grey, Newton showed that they appear completely white when seen in bright sunlight from a small distance. After presenting his conclusions about dividing sunlight into primary colors and mixing them together again in white light, Newton introduced a colour scheme to illustrate the relationships between these colors. Several modern sources indicate that Isaac Newton himself used a rotating disk with coloured sectors to show how white light was in fact a composite of the primary colors. However, these do not refer to any historical source.

Benefits of Newton’s Disc

It was an important discovery because it proves that light is not colourless, but rather has a colour in it that converges together to give the dull white that we consider colourless, and it was done by Isaac Newton. This property is based on the principles of light scattering.

By scientifically establishing our spectrum, Newton set the stage for others to experiment with colour scientifically. His work led to breakthroughs in optics, physics, chemistry, perception, and the study of colour in nature.

Coloured line graphs reveal chemical compositions of minerals. When a pure metal is burned and viewed through a spectrometer, each element gives unique spectra, a kind of colour imprint. This method, called spectroscopy, has led to the discovery of new elements and marks the first steps towards quantum theory.

4.5 percent of the population cannot see the entire visible spectrum, a condition called colour deficiency or colour blindness. Ishihara panels are used to test patients for different types of colour blindness.

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