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Roy G. Biv

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English mnemonics#Science

Roy G. Biv is a traditional mnemonic for the sequence of hues in the visible spectrum, in simple rainbows, and in order from longest to shortest wavelength:

The colors are arranged in the order of decreasing wavelengths, with red being about 700 nanometers and violet being about 400 nm.

Because the spectrum is a continuum, the selecting or omitting of individual colors in a list of representative colors is arbitrary. The traditional inclusion of the color indigo is attributed to Isaac Newton, who wanted the number of colors in his spectrum to come out to seven to match the number of days in the week, the number of notes in the major scale, and the number of known planets.[1][2] He originally (1672) named only five primary colors: red, yellow, green, blue and violet; only later did he introduce orange and indigo[3]. The Munsell color system, the first formal color notation system (1905), names only five "principal hues": red, yellow, green, blue and purple (though note that Munsell's purple is not a spectral hue).

The meaningless but speakable word ROYGBIV is also used as a mnemonic for the spectral colors, as is its slightly less euphonious reverse VIBGYOR.

Another traditional mnemonic device has been to turn the seven initial letters of the spectral colors into a sentence. In England probably the best known of these is "Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain". The mnemonic is said to allude to the defeat and death of Richard, Duke of York at the Battle of Wakefield, a battle which Richard had himself started and which led to the defeat of his forces and his death as well as that of his son.

A less known mnemonic is "Virgins In Bed Get Your Organs Red". This aids one in remembering the colours in order of increasing wavelength (decreasing frequency), a handy mnemonic for remembering the order of colours in the electromagnetic spectrum (ranging from gamma rays to radio waves).

Cultural references

  • "What happened to Roy G. Biv" [1] is the name of a German Indie-Rock Band
  • "Roygbiv" is the name of a song by Boards of Canada on their album Music Has The Right To Children.
  • "Roy G. Biv" is the name of a song by They Might Be Giants from their upcoming children's album, Here Come the 123s.
  • Roy G. Biv was the civilian identity of the superhero Spectral in the Ultraverse comic series, The Strangers.
  • Roy G. Biv is also used as the alias of the apparent mastermind of the events in Sam and Max: Season 1, as well as the creator and starter of a money laundering scheme.
  • Roy G. Bivolo was the civilian identity of the villain Rainbow Raider in the Flash comic series.
  • Vib Gyor is the name of an English band from Leeds who reversed the initial letters order to create their name.
  • "ROYGBIV" was also a password which players had to discover in the 1982 Acornsoft text adventure game Castle of Riddles, which was released for the BBC Microcomputer and the Acorn Electron.
  • "Roy G Biv" is a song by children's hip hop entertainer Hip Hop Harry available on his website[2].
  • A computer virus writer who goes by the name of "Roy G Biv"[3]. Also known as the Dread Pirate Roberts on Symantec's website[4]
  • "Roy G. Biv" is the name of a TV weatherman in Neal Stephenson's The Big U


  1. ^ Hutchison, Niels (2004). Music For Measure: On the 300th Anniversary of Newton's Opticks. Colour Music.
  2. ^ Newton, Isaac (1704). Opticks. 
  3. ^ Mills, A. A., Newton's Prisms and His Experiments on the Spectrum, Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London, Vol. 36, No. 1. (Aug., 1981), pp. 13-36
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Roy_G._Biv". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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