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A History of Optics From Greek Antiquity to the Nineteenth by Olivier Darrigol

By Olivier Darrigol

This e-book is a long term background of optics, from early Greek theories of imaginative and prescient to the nineteenth-century victory of the wave conception of sunshine. It indicates how mild progressively grew to become the principal entity of a website of physics that now not spoke of the functioning of the attention; it retraces the following festival among medium-based and corpuscular ideas of sunshine; and it information the nineteenth-century flourishing of mechanical ether theories. the writer seriously exploits and occasionally completes the extra really expert histories that experience flourished some time past few years. The ensuing synthesis brings out the actors' long term reminiscence, their dependence on vast cultural shifts, and the evolution of disciplinary divisions and connections. Conceptual precision, textual concision, and considerable representation make the ebook obtainable to a wide number of readers attracted to the origins of contemporary optics.

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Albrecht Du¨rer later offered startling representations of the concrete devices that Alberti imagined for this purpose (see Fig. 11). This theory plausibly derived from the angular perspective shared by Euclid’s, Ptolemy’s, and Alhazen’s optics, although contemporary surveying or scenographic techniques may also have played a role. It did not offer any means to decide between alternative concepts of vision, as Alberti himself noted: Among the ancients there was no little dispute about whether the rays come from the eye or the plane.

6–7), Galileo described the contraction of the visual field by refraction of the visual rays, and announced a full theory—which he never published. 59 On Kepler’s ignoring virtual images and later optical geometry by James Gregory and Isaac Barrow, cf. Shapiro 1990; Malet 1990, 1997. For Kepler, the image of an object was not always located where we now locate the virtual image (at the common intersection of the rays entering the eye) because the eye did not have to accommodate to the distance of the latter image and could favor an unfocused image at a different distance.

As for the refraction at the cornea, he argued that is was so strong that the issuing rays were close to the perpendicular and therefore little refracted by the anterior surface of the crystalline humor (which he assumed to be spherical and concentric with the cornea). 51 The essential point as Kepler himself saw it was that the eye acted as an optical instrument that produced an accurate painting (pictura) of distant objects on the retina: Vision takes place by a painting of the visible object on the white and concave wall of the retina; the leftward objects are painted on the right side of the wall, the rightward on the left side, the upward on the upper side, the downward on the lower side; green is painted with the same green color, and in a general manner every object is painted with its original color; so that if this painting on the retina could be exposed to daylight by removing the interposed parts of the eye that serve to form it, and if there were a man with sufficient visual acuity, he could recognize the identical figure of the hemisphere [of vision] on the tiny inside of the retina.

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