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The Camera Obscura. like many eminent philiosophers and mathematician, Ibn
al-Haitham was a keen observer. While in a room one day he noticed light coming
through a small hole made in the window shutters. It fell onto the wall opposite
and it was the half-moon shape of the sun's image during eclipses. From this he
explained that light travelled in a straight line and when the rays were reflected
off a bright subject they passed through the the small hole and did not scatter
but crossed and reformed as an upside-down image on a flat white surface parallel
to the hole, the clearer the picture.
In later stages, his discoveries led to the invention of the camera obscura, and
Ibn al-Haitham built the first camera, or camera obscura or pinhole camera, in history.
He went on to explain that we see objects upright and not upside down, as the camera
does, becouse of the connection of the optic nerve with the brain, which analyses
and defines the image.
During his practical experiments, Ibn al-Haitham often used the term al-Bayt-al-Muthlim,
which was translated into latin as camera obscura, or dark, private or closed room
or enclosed space. Camera is still used today, as is qamara in arabic which still
means a private or dark room.
Many of Ibn al-Haitham's works, speacially his huge Book of Optics, were translated
into latin by the medieval scholar Gerard of Cremona. This had a profound impact
on the 13th century big thinkers like Roger Bacon and Witelo, and even on the 15th
century works of Leonardo da Vinci.
Compiled from: 1001 Inventions:Muslim Heritage in Our Word by Salim T S