Spotlight on the 11th-century pioneer of optics and scientific experimentation
Born around a thousand years ago in present day Iraq, Al-Hasan Ibn al-Haytham (known in the West by the Latinised form of his first name, initially “Alhacen” and later “Alhazen”) was a pioneering scientific thinker who made important contributions to the understanding of vision, optics and light. His methodology of investigation, in particular using experiment to verify theory, shows certain similarities to what later became known as the modern scientific method. Through his Book of Optics (Kitab al-Manazir) and its Latin translation (De Aspectibus), his ideas influenced European scholars including those of the European Renaissance. Today, many consider him a pivotal figure in the history of optics and the “Father of modern Optics” (see references below).
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. 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.
In January 2015, 1001 Inventions launched a high-profile international educational campaign and transmedia initiative celebrating Ibn al-Haytham. The global campaign ‘1001 Inventions and the World of Ibn al-Haytham’ is produced by the UK based, science and cultural heritage organization, 1001 Inventions and Saudi Aramco’s King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, in partnership with UNESCO and the United Nations International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies (IYL 2015), celebrating the central role of light in science and culture.