Legacy of Arabic Optics

The Arabic optics legacy can be traced to the prominent Arab scientific thinker Al-Hassan Ibn Al-Haytham.

He was born around the region of Iraq when the Middle-East was still the centre of civilisation and scientific discovery in 965. He was such a prominent scientist that his method of using experiments to ascertain the credibility of his research has also been adopted by modern scientists. In the contemporary world, he is referred to as the “Father of Modern Optics” because of the crucial role he played in the study of optics.

Arabic Optics Legacy

Ibn Al-Hassan is synonymous with the Arabic Optics Legacy as result of his seven different publications on optics tagged Kitab al-Manazir which has been translated from Arabic into many languages particularly Latin where it is called De Aspectibus and in English as Book of Optics. The legacy is not limited to book translation alone; for instance, in 2015, UNESCO and another organisation introduced an educational initiative in order to acknowledge the work of this scholar on his findings on Optics. Ibn Al-Hassan made moves in many fields such as in mathematics, astronomy but none can match his prowess in Optics. This is because his work on optics was based on careful, consistent examinations. These experiments were carried out to verify the potency of his hypotheses and theories.
In the course of his experiments, he was able to discover and explain how human vision functions. As opposed to the previous views held by ancient Greek scientists, who believe that the human eyes produce ray, and some believe that a thing must enter into human eyes before an image could be produced. Al-Haytham based on his research work and findings, he countered both beliefs and stated that light is essential in the vision. He argued further that visual processes could not occur unless there is the presence of light rays entering the eyes. Ibn Al-Haytham, in his book of optics, also discussed the characteristics of light and nature of vision and its process. He did this through a device called Albeit Almuslim, which is also referred to as a dark chamber. It is from this that the modern-day camera operates. His work on Optics has become a source of reference for many scientists in the past and even in the modern era. It was through this work that he was able to share with the world how the human eye functions. By doing this, he gave those in the medical field insight into how the eye should operate. Again, it was through his work on optics that we get to give names to various parts of the eye. Through his numerous experiments and researches, he was able to understand how vision and light work, particularly when light enters into a dark room. Many of the contemporary writers have also adopted his work to give more insight into the study of light, the vision, among others.

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