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Ibn al-Haytham

Ibn al-Haytham (965-1041), born in Basra (Iraq) made great progress in understanding the phenomenon of light. With experimental setups he examined the reflection of light in mirrors, not only flat, but also in curved or cone-shaped mirrors.

YouTube: Apparatus for the Observation of the Reflection of Light

 

Science and Islam

Jim al-Khalili lectures in the Reel Truth Science Documentaries.
Physicist Jim Al-Khalili heads to northern Syria to explore how 1000 years ago Al-Biruni was able to calculate the size of the earth. He also goes to Cairo, Egypt to tell the story of physicist Ibn al-Haytham who helped establish the modern science of optics.

YouTube: Jim Al-Khalili tell sthe story of Ibn al-Haytham.

 

 

 

 

 

Ibn al-Haytham and the Apparatus for the Observation of the Reflection of Light

In October 2021, the Second International Prof. Dr. Fuat Sezgin Symposium on the History of Science in Islam has been held in Istanbul. As in 2019, it is my wish to present a new paper and a new workshop on the optics of Ibn al-Haytham. In 2021, I would like to focus on

  • Ibn al-Haythams apparatus which gave experimental proof of the law of reflection.
  • Ibn al-Haythams description of the shape of a solar eclipse through a pinhole in a camera obscura

For many people, the concept of sight is so obvious that they do not ask questions anymore. Doing experiments might help to investigate the topic of sight and light more thoroughly. Working with the apparatus encourages people to rethink the basic principles. Some people want to be challenged. Therefore, finding an explanation for the unexpected shape of a solar eclipse through a pinhole in a camera obscura is the ultimate challenge. The aim of the workshop is that people will remember for what reason Ibn al-Haytham was a genius and a master.

  • 2021 proposal

    My aim is to develop a hands-on classroom lesson series using a low-cost 3D-printed apparatus to bring the optics of Ibn al-Haytham alive.

  • prototype

    We developed a prototype of the apparatus.

  • catalogue

    The concept is based on drawings from the catalogue of the collection of instruments of the Institute for the History of Arabic and Islamic Sciences, published by Prof. Dr. Fuat Sezgin.

  • experiment

    We do have proof that the experiment delivers the result Ibn al-Haytham described.

  • sources

    A long list of literature is available on this web page, including links to online sources.

 

2021 Proposal

In the catalogue of the collection of instruments of the Institute for the History of Arabic and Islamic Sciences, an apparatus is mentioned for the observation of the reflection of light. The idea of the apparatus is brought forward by Ibn al-Haytham, the eleventh-century scholar who has been praised for his breakthroughs in optics as he was the first scientist who made big steps in this field since Ptolomy. The apparatus gives experimental proof of the law of reflection. In his tract on optics, Ibn al-Haytham provided his mathematical proof. The apparatus covers the basic configuration of the experiment. In his mathematics, he dealt with all kinds of situations, as I mentioned in 2019. His predecessors limited themselves to the easy case where the eye and the source of light are at the same distance of the center of a cylindrical mirror. Ibn al-Haytham solved the far more difficult general case where the light and eye are not at the same distance of the center, using a mix of practical experiments, conic sections, and rigorous mathematical proofs.

The Istanbul Museum of the History of Science and Technology in Islam exhibits a precious new-build apparatus. Experiments with this replica were successful. One clearly sees the rays of light and the reflection of these rays in all kind of mirrors (flat, conical, spherical, etc..).

My paper discusses the mathematical and experimental works of Ibn al-Haytham and presents a lesson series. My aim is to develop a hands-on classroom lesson series using a low-cost 3D-printed apparatus to bring the optics of Ibn al-Haytham alive. The story is also about the advanced use of mathematics by Ibn al-Haytham, which goes far beyond high school mathematics. In my lecture, I would like to address the important role of the optics of Ibn al-Haytham and present an outline of that lesson series. Afterward, in a workshop, the apparatus and the lesson series can be demonstrated.

Powerpoint

 

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Design of our prototype

Our design is ready, first prototypes are printed, mirrors are folded, and tested.

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Catalogue

Illustrations are from the catalogue of the collection of instruments of the Institute for the History of Arabic and Islamic Sciences.

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Experiment

Our experiment proves that this setup of the apparatus does work. Next step is to develop a low cost reliable 3D printed version of this apparatus that is suitable for classroom demonstrations. Light source will be a cellphone! So every student can do this experiment with his own device!

Powerpoint

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Shape of the image of the F

In the museum, a letter F is lit by a huge halogen light bulb at a near distance. The animation and the video explain the shape of the image of the F on the wall.

Powerpoint

Youtube: 2 hr, 46 min

The experimental setup uses a metal sheet in which the letter F has been cut out. So, light falls through the F, and light is blocked by the frame. The question is what will be the image of the letter F on the outer wall? Is it an F, or will it be an inverted F? Will one see the contours of the F? Will one see the shadow of the frame around the F?

Experiment

YouTube: video

 

 

 

The History of Islamic Science in 100 Objects Exhibition

Cumhurbaskanligi Millet Kütüphanesi

 

A Critical Edition of Ibn al-Haytham's Eclipse, The First Experimental Study of the Camera Obscura

Springer Link

 

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