Alhazen i Witelo a Międzynarodowy Rok Światła


  • Józef Szudy członek korespondent PAN, Instytut Fizyki, Uniwersytet Mikołaja Kopernika, Toruń

Słowa kluczowe:

lhazen, Witelo, history of optics, International Year of Light


The 68th Session of the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 2015 as the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies (IYL). In proclaiming the IYL focusing on the topic of light science, the UN has recognized the importance of raising global awareness of how light-based technologies promote sustainable development and provide solutions to global challenges in energy, education, agriculture and health. As noted in the UN Resolution, one of the goals of IYL is to celebrate in 2015 the anniversaries of a series of important milestones in the history of the science of light starting from the first studies of the 11th-century Islamic scholar Ibn al-Haytham (Alhazen), whose seminal book of optics Katib al-Manazir was written around 1015. Other anniversaries invoked in the Resolution are the wave theories of light proposed by Fresnel in 1815 and by Maxwell in 1865, Einstein’s theory of the photoelectric effect in 1905, and of the embedding of light through the general relativity in 1915. At the end of this list are two achievements reported in 1965: the discovery of the cosmic microwave background by Penzias and Wilson, and the inventions of Kao concerning the transmission of light in fibres for optical communication that power the Internet today. In the present article, we indicate the lack of some other important milestones on the UN Resolution list that also should be celebrated in 2015. First of all, we mention the name of Witelo – the first internationally known Polish scholar who in the 13th century wrote a treatise on optics Perspectiva that served as the standard text on the subject for the next three centuries until the beginning of the 17th century when in 1604 Johannes Kepler published his book entitled Ad Vitellionem paralipomena (Supplement to Witelo). Witelo’s treatise is partly based on Alhazen’s work, but contains also his own contributions to optics and ophthalmology. We also briefly discuss some controversies regarding the originality of Witelo’s work and its relationship to that of Alhazen. In the article we outline the development of the science of light in the context of the program of IYL and give a short overview of recent studies on the life and scientific contributions of Witelo performed in the USA and in Poland.