Diagram of parabolic mirror, 1572.
4 0 c m
actual image size: 17cm x 32cm

Diagram of parabolic mirror, 1572.

© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library


Diagram taken from the 1572 Latin edition of 'Optics' by Alhazen (c 965-1039), showing a parabolic mirror at the bottom and the source of the light rays, probably the Sun, at the top. Arab scientist Alhazen (pseudonym of Abu Ali Hasan Ibn al-Haitham) is considered the 'father of modern optics'. Born in Basra, Iraq, he spent most of his life in Spain conducting research in optics, mathematics, medicine and physics. 'Optics' includes the first accurate description of the parts of the eye.

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