What is Science? I believe that science is a means to explain the most fundamental phenomena that humans experience on a daily basis. Science aims to answer all our questions regarding the world around us. So for the first edition of this year’s science magazine, let’s answer one such common question that is extremely basic yet stumps most.
Why is the ocean blue? Although it sounds like an easy question to answer, most people will not be able to provide an explanation. So what is the real reason behind the ocean’s blue color? Is it the reflection of the sky? No, definitely not. The color of the ocean was explained by the scientist C. V. Raman. It all began when Raman was on a voyage on the Mediterranean Sea where he noticed the deep blue color of the sea. This piqued his curiosity and led to years of research. Finally Raman found an explanation, which is now known as the Raman Effect.
Alright, now it’s time to get technical. Raman Effect refers to a change of wavelength exhibited by some of the radiation scattered in a medium. This change in wavelength is what causes the blue color of the sea. Sunlight is scattered at the wavelength of blue light by the water in the sea, and thus the sea appears blue.
Raman Effect has vast applications in various fields of science. One major use is in the field of chemistry. Raman spectroscopy is used to identify substances. Every substance has a unique “fingerprint” that is determined by the spectrum of light scattered by the substance. Through Raman spectroscopy we are also able to identify explosives from a safe distance and we can detect drugs at a crime scene.
C. V. Raman was awarded the Nobel Prize for his ground-breaking discoveries and in India 28th February is celebrated as Science Day in memory of C. V. Raman. Raman had a curious mind and it was his eagerness to learn and discover that lead him to success. So the next time you’re at the beach or on a ship looking at the blue sea, think of C. V. Raman and remind yourself to be more inquisitive.