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Ibn al-Haitham

Ibn al-Haitham laid the foundation of modern optics; the determination of the velocity of light by Michelson, the Michelson-Morley experiment, the quantum theory and sophisticated photographic techniques, all the current ideas about ophthalmology, refraction of light, twilight, camera, obscura, light and optics, are all based on his observations and findings. Here, his mathematical ability outshone that of Euclid and Ptolemy.

Optics was developed to its highest degree by Ibn al-Haitham and he is often referred to as the "Father of Optics." Real and lasting advances stand to his credit in this department of science.

His greatest work is the "Book of Optics" or the "Kitab-ul-Manazir". The original Arabic is lost, but the book survives in Latin. In it, Ibn Haitham explodes the theory of Euclid and Ptolemy that the eye sends out visual rays to the object of vision. He states, "It is not a ray that leaves the eye and meets the object that gives rise to vision, rather the form of the perceived object passes into the eye and is transmitted by its transparent body, i.e., the lens."

Although a man of science, Ibn Haitham was also profoundly religious and brought a unique synthesis of these two realms in his interpretation of the Universe.

A man of many facets; astronomer, mathematician, physicist and physician, he had a 20th century mind in a 10th century world and left a legacy for all times and all nations.

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