Jul 1, 965
BirthHe was born in Basra, Iraq. His birth name was Abū ‘Alī al-Ḥasan ibn al-Haytham. But he became known by his "Western" name of Alhazen.
MathmaticsAl-Haytham contributed to geometry and number theory that went beyond the Archimedean tradition. He also worked on analytical geometry and was the first to link algebra and geometry. This work led to the fusion of algebra and geometry that was epitomized by Descartes in geometric analysis and later on by Newton in calculus.
Arrest in EgyptAlhazen traveled to Egypt where word spread that he claimed he could dam the Nile to prevent the continuous floods. These claims were made prior to seeing the river. After his arrival, he saw how daunting a task it would have been and realized he would be unable to fulfill his claims. For fear of death, he claimed insanity and was arrested and held under house arrest for a decade. It was during this time period that Alhazen performed his greatest work. ("Who was Ibn al-Haytham" 2015)
Father of OpticsAlhazen made great discoveries in the field of optics. His theory of vision, that the eyes receive rays of light, strongly contradicted the existing theory that the eye sends out rays to the object it "sees". His arrest played a huge role in this new theory. His cell was very dark except for the light coming in through a hole. If the currently accepted idea was true then he shouldn't have been able to see images of items on the other side of the wall being reflected onto a screen.
Scholarly WorksAlhazen is credited with writing nearly 100 books throughout his life. They ranged from mathematics to astronomy to physics. His so-called masterpiece is several volumes of books on optics and is called 'Book of Optics’. Thankfully over half of his books have survived to this day which has allowed us to have such great details on his work throughout his life.
Scientific Method/Falsifiability?Alhazen was quoted as saying “If learning the truth is the scientist’s goal… then he must make himself the enemy of all that he reads." This quote sounds VERY similiar to Popper's falsifiability. He went against the common "science" of the day where these men made guesses or had thoughts on how things work. They were trusted by people without having to defend these thoughts. Astrology was one field Alhazen disliked because it was based on thoughts and feelings, not facts. (Kechichian 2013)
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SourcesKechichian, Joseph A. “Profile: Ibn Al Haytham.” GulfNews, Gulfnews, 20 June 2013, gulfnews.com/culture/people/profile-ibn-al-haytham-1.1199808. “Who Was Ibn Al-Haytham.” Ibn Al-Haytham, King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, www.ibnalhaytham.com/discover/who-was-ibn-al-haytham/. Yasmeen M. Faruqi, "Contributions of Islamic scholars to the scientific enterprise." International Education Journal 7(4) (2006):391-396.