How Everything Works
How Everything Works How Everything Works

Question 366

Why is it that after swimming in a heavily chlorinated pool, you can see the spectrum around lights?
Your eye works very hard to keep all of the different wavelengths of light together so that they can form sharp images on your retina without any color errors. If you look at a white light bulb, all of the different colors from that bulb must arrive together on your retina or else you will see colors where they shouldn't be. Keeping these colors together is no small task and is one of the biggest problems encountered by lens makers for cameras and telescopes. The chlorine in a pool evidently upsets your eye's ability to control these color errors. However, I'm not sure what goes wrong or why chlorine causes this problem.

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