By Vasco Ronchi

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It perfects, or so to say, purifies the masterly and invaluable teac~ing of Ibn al-Haitham (§ 29), according to which every body must be regarded as consisting of an infinite number of point elements,. each emitting little images of itself in all directions. The trajectories-of these images are the rays. Therefore innu~erable rays leave every point on a body in all directions. Prior tC5 Maurolico, Western mathematicians did not reason in this way. x and complete species. It ') 40 OPTICS, THE SCJIENCE OF VISION 'may not be without significance that ~1aurolico, born at Messina in 1494, was the son of an Oriental physician whose family had fled from Constantinople to escape the Turkish invasion.

In fa~t, some years after the appearance of the Dioptrics those who undentood its contents were very few. But as one gen- 48 OPTICS, lifE SCIENCE OF VISION el"ation followed another, Kepler's concepts succeeded in acquiring unchallenged standing, and in the course of time a standing even higher than they really' deserved. It became a fundamental and undisputed rule that every point on a body emitted an infinite number of rays in all directions, and Flo. 10. to the object (Fig. 10). Even now nobody would dare to question this rule, had it not been made clear that the model of "light" consisting of rays was ina~equate.

1atural. Even today the formulas for the area and ,tolume of a wllo1e sphere (or helni·.. nown and remembered by many, while few recall those pertaining to a spherical segment. Moreover, the behavior of rays on a hemisphere lent itself to very simple and COllclusive demonstrations, whereas it would have been very difficult with the mathema,~cal equipn1ent of those times to determine with the precision characteristic of that science what was supposed to happen on a segment. 36. When. - C FIo. 1.

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Optics the Science of Vision by Vasco Ronchi


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