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Istanbul Museum of the History of Science and Technology in Islam

The museum (Islam Bilim ve Teknoloji Tarihi Müzesi, IBTTM) is situated in Gulhane Park and opened its doors in 2008.

History of the museum

Virtual Tour

 

Ibn al-Haytham

Ibn al-Haytham (965-1041), born in Basra (Iraq) made great progress in understanding the phenomenon of light. With experimental setups he examined the reflection of light in mirrors, not only flat, but also in curved or cone-shaped mirrors.

YouTube: Apparatus for the Observation of the Reflection of Light

 

 

 

 

 

Ibn al-Haytham and the Apparatus for the Observation of the Reflection of Light

In October 2021, the Second International Prof. Dr. Fuat Sezgin Symposium on the History of Science in Islam will be held in Istanbul. As in 2019, it is my wish to present a new paper and a new workshop on the optics of Ibn al-Haytham. In 2021, I would like to focus on Ibn al-Haythams apparatus which gave experimental proof of the law of reflection.

2021 proposal

prototype

catalogue

experiment

website Henk Hietbrink

2019 workshop

2019 paper

The Second International Prof. Dr. Fuat Sezgin Symposium on the History of Science in Islam

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2021 Proposal

In the catalogue of the collection of instruments of the Institute for the History of Arabic and Islamic Sciences, an apparatus is mentioned for the observation of the reflection of light. The idea of the apparatus is brought forward by Ibn al-Haytham, the eleventh-century scholar who has been praised for his breakthroughs in optics as he was the first scientist who made big steps in this field since Ptolomy. The apparatus gives experimental proof of the law of reflection. In his tract on optics, Ibn al-Haytham provided his mathematical proof. The apparatus covers the basic configuration of the experiment. In his mathematics, he dealt with all kinds of situations, as I mentioned in 2019. His predecessors limited themselves to the easy case where the eye and the source of light are at the same distance of the center of a cylindrical mirror. Ibn al-Haytham solved the far more difficult general case where the light and eye are not at the same distance of the center, using a mix of practical experiments, conic sections, and rigorous mathematical proofs.

The Istanbul Museum of the History of Science and Technology in Islam exhibits a precious new-build apparatus. Experiments with this replica were successful. One clearly sees the rays of light and the reflection of these rays in all kind of mirrors (flat, conical, spherical, etc..).

My paper discusses the mathematical and experimental works of Ibn al-Haytam and presents a lesson series. My aim is to develop a hands-on classroom lesson series using a low-cost 3D-printed apparatus to bring the optics of Ibn al-Haytham alive. The story is also about the advanced use of mathematics by Ibn al-Haytham, which goes far beyond high school mathematics. In my lecture, I would like to address the important role of the optics of Ibn al-Haytham and present an outline of that lesson series. Afterward, in a workshop, the apparatus and the lesson series can be demonstrated.

 

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Design of our prototype

Our design is ready, waiting for a first prototype.

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Catalogue

Illustrations are from the catalogue of the collection of instruments of the Institute for the History of Arabic and Islamic Sciences.

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Experiment

Our experiment proves that this setup of the apparatus does work. Next step is to develop a low cost reliable 3D printed version of this apparatus that is suitable for classroom demonstrations. Light source will be a cellphone! So every student can do this experiment with his own device!

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Sources

 

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Drawing instrument

According to the catalog of the Istanbul Museum of History of Science and Technology in Islam, the instrument was invented by Leonardo da Vinci and elaborated by the Italian professor Roberto Marcolongo.

Wikipedia: Leonardo da Vinci

Wikipedia: Roberto Marcolongo