Monday, March 23, 2009

Fjordman: Alhazen, Kepler and the History of Optics

Fjordman’s latest essay, “Alhazen, Kepler and the History of Optics”, has been published at Jihad Watch. His introduction is below:

My full history of optics and modern science, published in stages at Jihad Watch, Atlas Shrugs and the Gates of Vienna blog, has been published at the GoV. Why do I write about optics? I had heard a number of references to the scholar Ibn al-Haytham or Alhazen, who received compliments even from people who are otherwise very critical of Islamic culture. Because of this I decided to look into his work. I wanted to be able to place him in a historical context, so I read about the history of optics before and after him. It is an undeniable historical fact that photography, the telescope, the microscope and other optical inventions were first made in Europe. Yet if we assume that the Middle East with Mr. Alhazen by the eleventh century AD held a leading position in the optical sciences, why did optics not progress further in that region?

I started out with the intention of writing mainly about Alhazen and Kepler, but the essay eventually grew into a small book of well over 50,000 words. That happens to me a lot. A haiku for me is one thousand words. This essay is part of a larger effort to write a history of science and some other topics as well. The one good thing about having to disprove the historical myths promoted by Muslims and their apologists is that it forces us to look seriously into many aspects of history that we may not normally pay much attention. I have therefore read extensively about the history of mathematics, astronomy, physics, optics and chemistry, among many other things.
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I intend to publish my conclusions regarding this, plus a history of beer and chocolate, provided that I can find a publisher for my material. My first book Defeating Eurabia is already available in print. My next book will probably exceed 150,000 words and will include this plus a number of other online essays and a few additional texts which I will reserve for the paper edition. I will soon continue with a history of mathematics and mathematical astronomy in several parts, published at the Gates of Vienna, The Brussels Journal, Atlas Shrugs and Jihad Watch.

For the rest of Fjordman’s article — including some fascinating material on Alhazen — visit Jihad Watch.