Once upon a time there dwelt an old King in a palace. In the center of a golden table in the main hall, there shone a large and magnificent jewel. Each day of the King’s life the stone sparkled more resplendently.
One day a thief stole the jewel and ran from the palace, hiding in a forest. As he stared with deep joy at the stone, to his amazement the image of the King appeared in it.
“I have come to thank you,” said the King. “You have released me from my attachment to Earth. I thought I was freed when I acquired the jewel, but then I learned that I would be released only when I passed it on, with a pure heart, to another.
“Each day of my life I polished that stone, until finally this day arrived, when the jewel became so beautiful that you stole it, and I have passed it on, and am released.
“The jewel you hold is Understanding. You cannot add to its beauty by hiding it and hinting that you have it, nor yet by wearing it with vanity. Its beauty comes of the consciousness that others have of it. Honor that which gives it beauty.”—Thaddeus Golas http://enlightenment4u.org/Ebooks/Enlightenment.pdf
The sky is blue because the incident light interacts with the gas molecules in the air in such as fashion that more of the light in the blue part of the spectrum is scattered, reaching our eyes on the surface of the planet. All the frequencies of the incident light can be scattered this way, but the high-frequency (short wavelength) blue is scattered more than the lower frequencies in a process known as Rayleigh scattering, described in the 1870′s. John William Strutt, Lord Rayleigh, who also won the Nobel Prize in physics in 1904 for the discovery of argon, demonstrated that, when the wavelength of the light is on the same order as the size of the gas molecules, the intensity of scattered light varies inversely with the fourth power of its wavelength. Shorter wavelengths like blue (and violet) are scattered more than longer ones. It’s as if all the molecules in the air preferentially glow blue, which is what we then see everywhere around us.
Yet, the sky should appear violet since violet light is scattered even more than blue light. But the sky does not appear violet to us because of the final, biological part of the puzzle, which is the way our eyes are designed: they are more sensitive to blue than violet light.
The explanation for why the sky is blue involves so much of the natural sciences: the colors within the visual spectrum, the wave nature of light, the angle at which sunlight hits the atmosphere, the mathematics of scattering, the size of nitrogen and oxygen molecules, and even the way human eyes perceive color. It’s most of science in a question that a young child can ask.