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IN FOCUS


NEWS


INTERVIEW


HORIZONS


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A WORLD OF SCIENCE

IN FOCUS

The miracle of light

There may be more to celebrate in the International Year of Physics than meets the eye. Indeed, the Year marks not only the centenary of Einstein's miraculous year but also the millennium of the founding of modern optics by physicist Ibn Haitham. [More]

• Ibn Haitham's light beam
In order to settle the long-standing debate over how vision worked, Ibn Haitham pioneered an experimental set-up of surprising simplicity: the pinhole camera, or camera obscura2, the principle behind all photography from the earliest cameras to modern-day digital ones. [More]


Science through the pinhole camera
Before we turn to the second property of light underpinning a light-cone diagram, let’s take a closer look at the impact of the pinhole camera, an invention which has powered centuries of scientific thought. [More]

Speed of light infinite or finite?
Two of the most fundamental phenomena in optics are reflection and refraction, both of which Ibn Haitham investigated through countless experiments. [More]

Optics masterpiece
An in-depth analysis of reflection and refraction appears in the second half of Ibn Haitham’s masterpiece Kitab Al-Manazir, or Book of Optics, translated into Latin as Opticae Thesaurus – a revolutionary work firmly based on geometry and experiment, reforming the established optical tradition of Ptolemy. [More]

Designing the perfect lens
According to legend, Archimedes (Greece, 287–212 BC) set invading Roman ships afire by focusing sunrays onto them using huge mirrors. [More]

Light’s dual nature: simply miraculous
Three centuries after Ibn Haitham, the Persian physicist K. Al-Farisi (1267–1319) wrote an important commentary on the Book of Optics, in which he set out to explain many natural phenomena. [More]

Alhazen’s Billiard Problem
The recent proof of Fermat’s Last Theorem3, hailed as one of the biggest mathematical triumphs of the 20th century, left perhaps the last of the great problems in classical geometry half-solved: Alhazen’s Problem. [More]

Science’s oldest puzzle
Have you ever wondered why the Moon looks much bigger when it is near the horizon? This intriguing phenomenon, known as the ‘Moon illusion’, is arguably the oldest unsolved scientific puzzle today. [More]

The search for quantum gravity
One of the intended goals of the International Year of Physics is perhaps to inspire another paradigm shift, which might well be needed in order to solve the central problem in physics today: finding a theory for quantum gravity.
[More]

Over the Moon!
Today, in celebration of Ibn Haitham, who correctly explained the nature of the Moon's surface, a lunar crater has been named after him. [More]

A WORLD OF SCIENCE

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