In the 1660s, English physicist and mathematician Isaac Newton began a series of experiments with sunlight and prisms. He demonstrated that clear white light was composed of seven visible colors.
In isolation during the bubonic plague, the English physicist Isaac Newton (1642-1727) conducted his famous experiment on light. He was using a prism to refract a ray of light from a hole in the shutters over a window. A white surface (far left) allowed Newton to observe that light splits into the different colors (spectrum) observed in rainbows. Newton failed to further split the colors, but later he remixed the colors using a lens and prism. Newton carried out this experiment while at Cambridge University, but the results were not known until he published the book ‘Opticks’ in 1704.