Charles Falco "Ibn al-Haytham and His Influence on Post-Medieval Western Culture and Optics"

Saturday, April 23, 2016, 6:00 p.m.
Venue: CN 1.102
Admission: Free
Season: 2015-16

Sponsored by UT Dallas Asia Center, School of Arts and Humanities, Crescent Foundation, Institute of Medieval and Post-Medieval Studies

Ibn al-Haytham (commonly known by his Latinized name “Alhazen”) living from 965 to 1040 A.D., made significant improvements in optics, physical science, and the scientific method. He wrote nearly 100 works on topics as diverse as poetry and politics. For nearly 400 years, his solution to a geometric problem has been known as "Alhazen's problem," and today he is primarily known for his writings on geometrical optics, astronomy, and mathematics.

Charles Falco will discuss Alhazen’s seven-volume book Kitāb al-Manāzir (Book of Optics), and the intellectual contributions that were subsequently incorporated into the core of post-Medieval Western culture.  Alhazen’s work in the 11th century on human vision began an unbroken chain of development to optical scientists in the 21st century. The noted science historian, David Lindberg, wrote that "Alhazen was undoubtedly the most significant figure in the history of optics between antiquity and the seventeenth century." As impressive and accurate as that characterization is, recent discoveries show that it significantly understates the impact that Alhazen had on areas as wide-ranging as the theology, literature, art, and science of Europe.

Acknowledgements: This work done in collaboration with David Graves and David Hockney.

Bio: Professor Charles Falco has joint appointments in Optical Sciences and Physics at the University of Arizona where he holds the UA Chair of Condensed Matter Physics. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the Optical Society of America, and the Society of Photo-optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE), has published more than 275 scientific manuscripts, co-edited two books, has seven U.S. patents, and given over 400 invited talks at conferences, research institutions, and cultural organizations in 32 countries. However, in addition to his scientific research, he was co-curator of the Solomon R. Guggenheim museum's "The Art of the Motorcycle" which, with over 2 million visitors in New York, Chicago, Bilbao, and the Guggenheim Las Vegas, was by far the most successful exhibition of industrial design ever assembled. More recently, he and the world-renowned artist David Hockney found artists of such repute as van Eyck, Bellini and Caravaggio used optical projections in creating portions of their work. Three international conferences have been organized around these discoveries, and recognition for them includes the Ziegfield Lecture Award from the National Art Education Association, the Dwight Nicholson Medal from the American Physical Society, and a presentation in the opening ceremony of the 2015 United Nations 'International Year of Light'. Pursuing even earlier documentation of the use of optics resulted in new discoveries that have revealed Ibn al-Haytham's contributions to broad areas of European culture.

For more information contact:
Monique Wedderburn
[email protected]

UT Dallas students, staff and faculty may receive a free ticket to any ticketed A&H event by presenting their Comet Card at the Box Office on the night of the performance. See tickets for more information.

Persons with disabilities may submit a request for accommodations to participate in this event at UT Dallas' ADA website. You may also call (972) 883-2982 for assistance or send an email to [email protected]. All requests should be received no later than 2 business days prior to the event.

Due to on-going campus construction, please visit Pardon Our Progress to keep updated with the latest construction projects

Click here for parking locations/information, maps and directions to A&H event venues and visit UT Dallas Parking & Transportation for more information.