Uncovering the magic of rainbows at the San Francisco Exploratorium

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Tuesday, June 22, 2021
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The Exploratorium's senior scientist shares the secret to making rainbows with meteorologist Drew Tuma to honor LGBTQ+ Pride Month.

SAN FRANCISCO -- The rainbow flag has long been a symbol of the LGBTQ+ community. San Francisco's Exploratorium is celebrating Pride Month with an exhibit dedicated to the magic of rainbows!

Meteorologist Drew Tuma from our sister station in San Francisco talked with Julie Yu, a senior scientist with the Exploratorium, to find out the science behind rainbows.

RELATED: Original rainbow flag returns home to SF, displayed at GLBT Historical Society

The San Francisco Exploratorium is honoring Pride through virtual events and exciting exhibits. Visitors can experience what life looks like without rainbows in the "Monochromatic Room" exhibit, a room drenched in a yellowish hue emitted from sodium vapor lamps.

Yu explains that while these lamps only have one wavelength of yellow light, simply shining a white light flashlight reveals the colors of the rainbow in the room.

"What this shows us is that white light is actually composed of many different colors of light all combined into one," says Julie. "When you see a rainbow out in the world, you are actually seeing all of the visible light that sunlight is composed of."

Visitors can head to the Glass Bead Rainbow station to create their very own rainbows with a flashlight reflecting off of glass beads, similar to sunlight reflecting off of raindrops in nature.

Not only are rainbows a beautiful sight to see after a rainy day, but they are also a strong symbol of LGBTQ+ pride.

"When I think about both the symbolism of rainbows and the science of rainbows, it's a reminder that something we might assume as one thing is actually made up of many things," Yu shares.

Yu relates rainbows back to human identity saying, "We are composed of all of these things even though upon initial glance we might just assume it's one thing."

The Exploratorium is holding Pride Month celebrations virtually with their After Dark Online: Pride event on Thursday, June 24 at 7 p.m. PT.

The event will celebrate LGBTQ+ heritage and culture as community leaders discuss topics of self-affirmation, freedom of expression, and the essential need for representation.

The Exploratorium will officially open its doors to the public on July 1.