Who was Ibn al-Haytham?
Al-Hassan Ibn al-Haytham (Latinised as Alhazen), born 965 Basra, died 1040 Cairo.
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”.
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 under appreciated impact on our world.
(Image on the right) Creative representation bust of Ibn al-Haytham made by artist Ali Amro for 1001 Inventions to celebrate the UNESCO International Year of Light 2015 (© 1001 Inventions)