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Question
Dear Dr. Stephen O. Nelson,
I am a Year 5 student doing a project as part of Genius Hour which is time set back every week to do a project that you are passionate about. The topic i chose was Colours and so i would like to find out whether it is possible for us to see a rainbow with different colours from the usual colours we see in a rainbow.

Thanks,
Jennifer

Answer
As far as just using your eyes, you see a continuous spectrum of color from a rainbow, so not really.  If you had eyes that could see into the near infrared, you would see colors a little beyond the visible spectrum.  There is medical evidence that there are people with a fourth type of cone in their eyes who can actually do this.  Imagine how it would look if you were a mantis shrimp, though!  Some species have 17 different types of cones (color-sensitive structures in your retina) in their eyes...humans typically only have three.  So they would perceive the colors differently, but the light wouldn't really be any different.

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Dr. Stephen O. Nelson

Expertise

I can answer most basic physics questions, physics questions about science fiction and everyday observations of physics, etc. I'm also usually good for science fair advice (I'm the regional science fair director). I do not answer homework problems. I will occasionally point out where a homework solution went wrong, though. I'm usually good at explaining odd observations that seem counterintuitive, energy science, nuclear physics, nuclear astrophysics, and alternative theories of physics are my specialties.

Experience

I was a physics professor at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin, research in nuclear technology and nuclear astrophysics. My travelling science show saw over 20,000 students of all ages. I taught physics, nuclear chemistry, radiation safety, vacuum technology, and answer tons of questions as I tour schools encouraging students to consider careers in science. I moved on to a non-academic job with more research just recently.

Education/Credentials
Ph. D. from Duke University in physics, research in nuclear astrophysics reactions, gamma-ray astronomy technology, and advanced nuclear reactors.

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