Alhazen or Alhacen or ibn al-Haytham (965–1039) was a pioneer of modern optics. Some have also described him as a "pioneer of the modern scientific method" and "first scientist", but others think this overstates his contribution. Alhazen's Risala fi’l-makan (Treatise on Place) discussed theories on the motion of a body. He maintained that a body moves perpetually unless an external force stops it or changes its direction of motion. He laid foundations for telescopic astronomy.
He was an Arab Muslim polymath who made contributions to the principles of optics, as well as to anatomy, engineering, mathematics, medicine, ophthalmology, philosophy, physics, psychology, Muslim theology, visual perception. He is sometimes called al-Basri (Arabic: البصري), after his birthplace in the city of Basra in Iraq (Mesopotamia).
Alhazen lived mainly in Cairo, Egypt, dying there at age 74. Over-confident about practical application of his mathematical knowledge, he thought he could regulate the floods of the Nile. When he was ordered by Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah, the sixth ruler of the Fatimid caliphate, to carry out this operation, he realized he could not do it, and retired from engineering. Fearing for his life, he pretended to be mad, and was placed under house arrest. For the rest of his life he devoted himself entirely to his scientific work.
- O'Connor, John J; Edmund F. Robertson "Abu Ali al-Hasan ibn al-Haytham". MacTutor History of Mathematics archive.
- Eric W. Weisstein, Alhazen (ca. 965–1039) at ScienceWorld.
- Roshdi Rashed, A Polymath in the 10th century, Science 297 (2002): 773
- A.I. Sabra, "Ibn al-Haytham: brief life of an Arab mathematician"
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