A tribute the man who may have made it all possible

Discussion in 'Exposure Discussion' started by neilpcraven, Aug 25, 2010.

  1. neilpcraven

    neilpcraven Member

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    Inspired by the threads about the history of Photography I though I'd share my enthusiasm for an old fella who some of you may know of. Permit me a little bit of a shaggy dog story but hopefully it will illustrate why this guy was a 'cool dude'

    His name is the Abū Alī al-Ḥasan ibn al-Ḥasan ibn al-Haytham. (he gets called al-Haytham) He's long dead.

    Well, 1000 years ago, he was considered pretty good at mathematics. So good, he was hired to predict the seemingly random episodes of the flooding of the Nile in Egypt, and to devise a way of stemming the flood when it next occurred. He built some clever structures that still exist today, which measured the height of the river, and through mathematical modeling could predict next time it would flood.

    Sadly, the boss wasn't happy with that and asked him to actually stop the next flood. After trying to build a dam at Aswan (now known to be quite a good place to build a dam) he realised it was impossible and pretended to go mad to get out of the deal (this sounds bad now, but relative to what happened at the time to sane people reneging on a deal, was the best way out)

    So our pal Al-Haytham was under house arrest from 1011 until his imprisoner's death 10 years later. This was before the Normans conquered England. In fact they had only just become Normans after invading France, lions still roamed Europe, and Spain was still Muslim, hundreds of years away from dominating the world with Catholicism and destroying Science with the Inquisition and the Dark Ages.

    Anyway, he had some great ideas about optics. He proved that light travels in straight lines. He also made the first Camera Obscura. On the way, he just happened to define the Scientific Method


    I would heartily encourage everyone to have a little read of what this fella did for Maths, Physics and Optics. And (if you'll forgive me for a little bit of politicising) think about where in the world he came from: Basra, Iraq.

    He's certainly my photographic hero.

    (for the record I'm not promoting this as a cultural/religious thing: I'm an athiest born as a Scottish Presbyterian)
     
  2. M.A.Longmore

    M.A.Longmore Subscriber

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    Atheism, And Analog Photography.
    We Might Have To Create An APUG Group !


    Ron

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  3. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Member

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    It's a good combination for me!


    Steve.
     
  4. M.A.Longmore

    M.A.Longmore Subscriber

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    I'm leaving for work in a few minutes,
    but I'll create the group when I get home !
    Unless someone else gets to it first.


    Ron

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  5. Focus No. 9

    Focus No. 9 Member

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    this could be interesting.
     
  6. Q.G.

    Q.G. Inactive

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    Credit to whom it is due: Alhazen is an important guy.
    He however also was about 15 - 16 centuries late in making the first camera obscura.

    Much of his contribution to the scientific method too was something he learned from people who lived many, many centuries earlier.

    But still!
     
  7. Ray Rogers

    Ray Rogers Member

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    AAAP? (Atheism And Analog Photography)
    or
    APUG? (Atheist's Photography Users Group)
     
  8. Ray Rogers

    Ray Rogers Member

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    Even "Common Sense" is a Learned Technique!
     
  9. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    Will this be the 2nd group of yours that I have to join Ron? At least with this one I'm justified in belonging! (member of the Long Island group, though I've never even been to the east coast north of NC)

    But seriously, this is a nice post about a cool guy that deserves recognition for sure. I'd like to take a shot at reading 'Optics'.

    And did lions really roam Europe?
     
  10. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    Ibn al-Haytham was a real badass polymath, all right. I stumbled over him (well, not in person, but his historical influence) while in gradual school---geometers, it turns out, *really* owe their livelihoods to that guy, but he's not particularly well-known as a Great Mathematician Of History.

    He doesn't seem to have built *the* first camera obscura, but he may have been the first to get systematic about understanding what one was and how it worked. It kind of depends on where you draw the line between saying "If you poke a hole here it does something interesting" and "I'm gonna build me a camera!"

    -NT
     
  11. Q.G.

    Q.G. Inactive

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    No.
     
  12. funkpilz

    funkpilz Member

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    Sign me up for that group.
     
  13. Nick Kanellos

    Nick Kanellos Subscriber

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  15. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    Incredible!
     
  16. Galah

    Galah Member

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    I can't resist "funning" you :smile:: you seem to be able to spell Presbyterian (a faith you have discarded) to become an atheist, which you can't spell. Perhaps you haven't been one long? :smile:

    (Just "joshing" :smile:)
     
  17. AgX

    AgX Member

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    "The Optics of Ibn Al-Haytham: On Direct Vision
    Bks.1-3 (Studies of the Warburg Institute)"

    735 pages
    Publisher: Warburg Institute (1989)
    ISBN: 0854810727
     
  18. lxdude

    lxdude Member

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    At Christmas I become an eggnogstic. No group needed.
     
  19. johnnywalker

    johnnywalker Subscriber

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    Think it might just be a typo?
     
  20. Q.G.

    Q.G. Inactive

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    I stand corrected.

    Though i'm still not a believer. :wink:
     
  21. Galah

    Galah Member

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    True! :smile:
     
  22. M.A.Longmore

    M.A.Longmore Subscriber

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    Thanks Ray !

    Private Group Created : A.P.U.G., Atheist Photographers Users Group.


    Ron
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  23. steven_e007

    steven_e007 Member

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    Interesting article,

    and yep, count me in for an atheist group, too ;-)
     
  24. neilpcraven

    neilpcraven Member

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    That's true, but he was the first to formalise it...
    I guess you have a lot of spare time when under house arrest for 10 years!! :smile:
     
  25. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    thanks Agx
     
  26. Q.G.

    Q.G. Inactive

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    As far as we know, perhaps.
    But we don't even know whether he is as far as we know. :wink:

    The fact that these things were described so many centuries before already, by men who were not to be sniffed at either, would make it highly improbable (but still possible) that he would be the first to sit down with some paper and a pencil, to decribe how i works. Let alone figure out how it works.

    But that doesn't detract anything from the imprtance of this guy.
    Even the unoriginal stuff from ages before the age of Alhazen we had to have brought to us by people repeating it, embellishing and improving while they went along.