Loading data.. Open Bottom Panel. Go to previous Content Download this Content Share this Content Add This Content to Favorites Go to next Content. ← →. The Author. Ibn al-Haytham, known to the west as Alhazen, was born in Basra where he studied mathematics and other sciences. He flourished in Egypt under . Kitab al-Manazir (Book of Optics) by Ibn al-Haytham, Istanbul,. Eleventh Century. Arab and Muslim Physicians and Scholars. Ann Saudi Med.
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His methodology of investigation, in particular using experiment to verify theory, shows certain similarities to what later became known as the modern scientific method. Ibn al-Haytham was born during a creative period known as the golden age of Muslim civilisation that saw many fascinating advances in science, technology and medicine.
Who was Ibn al-Haytham
In an area that spread from Spain to China, inspirational men and women, of different faiths and cultures, built upon knowledge of ancient civilisations, making discoveries that had a huge and often underappreciated impact on our world.
He is known to have said:. Ibn al-Haytham was born in the year in Basra, and died in about in Cairo. He sought experimental proof of his theories and ideas. During many years living in Egypt, ten of which were spent under what we may now call protective custody house arresthe composed one of his most celebrated works, the Kitab al-Manazir, whose title is commonly translated into English as Book of Optics but more properly has the broader meaning Book of Vision.
Ibn al-Haytham made significant advances in optics, mathematics and astronomy. His work on optics was characterised by a strong emphasis on carefully designed experiments to test theories and hypotheses.
In that regard he was following a procedure somewhat similar to the one modern scientists adhere to in their investigative research. Ibn al-Haytham experimented to prove that we see because light from objects travels in a straight line into our eyes.
Book of Optics – Wikipedia
Different views about how the process of vision could be explained had been in circulation for centuries mainly among classical Greek thinkers. Some said rays came out of the eyes, while others thought something entered the eyes to represent an object.
But it was the 11th-century scientist Ibn al-Haytham who undertook a systematic critique of these ideas about vision in kkitab to demonstrate by both reason and experiment that light kita a crucial, and independent, part of the visual process. He thus concluded that vision would only take place when a light ray issued from a luminous source or was reflected from such a source before it entered the eye.
Out of the 96 books he is recorded to have written; only 55 are known to have survived. Those related to the subject of light included: Ibn al-Haytham was born after centuries of intense activity in mathematics, astronomy, optics, and other physical sciences. Ibn al-Haytham stands out in this long list as the leading figure in both the science of light and science of vision because his work depended so heavily on experimentally-based demonstrations.
His work was important for two reasons:. Ibn al-Haytham greatly benefitted from being able to use the work of previous generations of scholars that had been translated into Arabic over a period of over two-three hundred years under the patronage of various Muslim rulers and wealthy aristocrats. This included direct translation of many scientific al-manxzir from Greek, Syriac and Persian which themselves were the heirs to the great scientific traditions of Ancient Egypt, Babylonia, India and China.
With new scientific insights such as those of Ibn al-Haytham, as well as medical marvels, astronomical observations, new maps, libraries and advanced schools that taught various mathematical subjects, Muslim civilisation made significant and crucial contribution to the accumulation of scientific knowledge in the pre-modern age that changed the ancient world. These past discoveries have shaped our homes, schools, hospitals, towns, the way we trade, travel and our understanding of the universe.
Who was Ibn al-Haytham – Ibn Al-Haytham
Born in the year in Basra, he made significant contributions to our understanding of both vision and light, bringing important new insights into both of these subjects. His brilliant breakthrough, however, came at a time of the darkest episode of his life. Ibn al-Haytham grew up at a time when schools and libraries flourished in the Muslim civilisation. Students had access to highly trained scholars who could teach a variety of subjects, including law, literature, medicine, mathematics, geography, history and art.
Debates and discourses were popular and took place in Arabic. Scholars enjoyed discussing ideas from newly translated ancient manuscripts.
This claim reached al-Hakim, the Fatimid caliph in Egypt who invited him to Cairo. Confident of his own abilities, Ibn al-Haytham boasted that he would tame the great Nile River by building a dam and al-manazur.
But when he saw the extent of the challenge and the marvellous remains of ancient Egypt on the river banks, he reconsidered his own boast thinking. If such a huge project could be done, he reasoned, it would have been done by the brilliant builders of the past who had left us such fantastic architectural relics.
He returned to Cairo to inform the caliph that his solution was not possible. He knew that Islamic law would protect a mad person from bearing responsibility for his failure.
Rather than executing or expelling Ibn al-Haytham from Cairo, the caliph decided to put the scholar under permanent protective custody. That was required by law in order to ensure his safety and that of others.
Ibn al-Haytham was placed under what amounted to house arrest, far from the lively discourses and debates to which he was accustomed. Yet it just as life was at its bleakest moment. Ibn al-Haytham might have made the dazzling discovery for which he is best remembered.
Legend says, one day he saw light shining through a tiny pinhole into his darkened room — projecting an image of the world outside onto the opposite wall. Ibn al-Haytham realized that he was seeing images of objects outside that were lit by the Sun.
From repeated experiments he concluded that light rays travel in straight lines, and that vision is accomplished when these rays pass into our eyes. After many additional experiments using special apparatus of lenses and mirrors which he built, he laid down his new ideas about light and vision in his seven volumes Book of Optics.
He was released from prison on the death disappearance of the caliph.
Ibn al-Haytham died at the age of 74 in His greatest work, al-manaazir Book of Opticshad perhaps begun from the confines of imprisonment and was completed around the year but its impact rippled out across the whole world. Both his optical discoveries, and the fact that they had been validated using hands-on experiments, would influence those who came after him for centuries. So how did that influence shine its light on later generations? In the early 12th century, Toledo in Spain was the kktab of a huge effort to translate Arabic books into Latin.
Christian, Jewish and Muslim scholars flocked to the city, where they lived alongside one another and worked together to translate the old knowledge into Latin and then into other European languages. In his experiments, he observed that light coming through a tiny hole travelled in straight lines and projected an image onto the opposite wall.
But he realised that light entering the eye was only the first step in seeing. He built on the work of Greek physician Galen who had provided a detailed description of the eye and the optic pathways.
Ibn al-Haytham suggested that only the light rays that hit the surface of the eye head-on would pass into the eye, creating a representation of the world. It was Kepler in the sixteenth century who corrected this and al-mznazir that the object of sight — what is seen comes from both perpendicular and angular rays that hit the eye to form kitah inverted image on the retina.
Ibn al-Haytham also subscribed to a method of empirical analysis to accompany theoretical postulates that is similar in certain ways to the scientific method we know today. He realised that the senses were prone to error, and he devised methods of verification, testing and experimentation to uncover the truth of the natural phenomena he perceived. Up until this time, the study of physical phenomena had been an abstract activity with occasional experiments.
In search of evidence, Ibn al-Haytham studied lenses, experimented with different mirrors: His practical results were clear:. It was published as a print edition in so that it could be made more easily available. The Polish astronomer Johannes Hevelius chose to honour Ibn al-Haytham, alongside Galileo, in his most famous work on the Moon, Selenographia, published in Some questions Ibn al-Haytham raised remained unsolved for a thousand years.
Ibn al-Haytham solved this problem geometrically but it remained unsolved using algebraic methods until it was finally solved in by the Oxford mathematician Peter M Neumann.
And yet, some mysteries remain. This, and other questions in science, has yet to be solved — leaving a legacy of intrigue for us to tackle today.