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SPIE Professional January 2012

Illustrating optics roots

R&D Highlights: Recommendations

SPIE member Sarah Lane of Georgia Tech Research Institute recommends "Early advances on rays and refraction: a review through selected illustrations," published in a special section on optical design in the SPIE journal Optical Engineering in December 2011.

Too often we can become so immersed in what is happening today that we begin to forget the scientific foundations upon which our research is based. Giuseppe Molesini doesn't take this foundation for granted.

He presents a fascinating overview of the study of optics from ancient times, complete with examples and illustrations from the classical texts themselves. Molesini, of the Istituto Nazionale di Ottica in Italy, points out that "our achievements... are based on work and efforts of generations of scientists, technicians, artisans and practitioners who pioneered and developed the field of optics."

 The law of refraction in Descartes treatment. Optomechanical design of a "Helioscopic machine" for the observation of sunspots.

His review, he says, "is intended to acknowledge our primary roots and remember a period that has been key to the foundation."

The article will interest optical engineers, but those whose interest lies in general science, history, even art, could enjoy the rich historical account Molesini provides. Optical engineers, both veterans and those in their early careers, will truly appreciate the past accomplishments that enable modern advances, as Molesini reminds us to take a moment to appreciate the individuals responsible.

Source: Optical Engineering 50, 121704 (2011); doi: 10.1117/1.3618001.

Have a question or comment about this article? Write to us at spieprofessional@spie.org.

DOI: 10.1117/2.4201201.19

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