Light and Color Conference

FAIRBANKS, Alaska- To most people, a rainbow is a beautiful sight, but it makes some men and women absolutely giddy. We're talking about a group of scientists who study the effects of light in nature. This week, some of them are meeting at UAF.

Researcher with the Geophysical Institute at UAF, Ken Sassen, says they are a unique bunch of scientists who "are very curious about even the little things. If there is one picture of a halo that we can't explain. It really bothers us, so we're gonna try to come up with an explanation."

They've built some creative machines to find explanations. These can be complex depending on the lighting effect they want to recreate, but they all need a strong light source, to represent the sun, and something to bounce that light. In one case, a stream of water reflects and refracts rainbows onto the a plastic wall. A piece of shaped plastic can mimic the shape of an ice crystal in the atmosphere.

"By studying using big models we can change the shape a little bit and see how that effects the kind of halo you get," Sassen said.

About 45 scientists from around the world are participating in this week’s light and color conference. They have these meeting every three or four  years and this time a lot of scientists wanted to see Alaska. Newscenter 11's Tyson Paris–Hansen went to their public demonstration on Monday. You can see his report Wednesday night on the Fairbanks Evening News.