By Charlie Tompkins
When I was a freshman in high school 50 years ago, I was fascinated with light. I only knew a little about prisms and had not yet discovered the diffraction grating,1 but I loved the colors of the spectrum. I can remember the first time I heard the words infrared spectrum. Instantly, my horizons expanded as I realized that light is only a very narrow visible band in the vast array of radiations God has made. Although the infrared is invisible, it too can be separated by a prism or a diffraction grating into a spectrum; the same is true for ultraviolet rays and other types of radiations.
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A diffraction grating is an optical element used to separate light into its wavelengths or colors.