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Arab physicist, mathematician and astronomer

Alhazen[1] 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.[2] 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[3][4] or Persian 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.[5] Over-confident about practical application of his mathematical knowledge, he thought he could regulate the floods of the Nile.[6] 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,[7] and was placed under house arrest. For the rest of his life he devoted himself entirely to his scientific work.[5]

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  1. Abū ʿAlī al-Ḥasan ibn al-Ḥasan ibn al-Haytham (Arabic: أبو علي الحسن بن الحسن بن الهيثم, Latinized: Alhacen or Ibn al-Haytham)
  2. Smith, Mark A. 1992. quote: "It is equally true that he has recourse to numerous experiments, some quite elaborate. But by modern standards these experiments are negligible in terms both of theoretical scope and of demonstrated effects. Not unexpectedly, in fact, Ibn al-Haytham's experimentalism has far more in common with that of Ptolemy than with that of Pavlov or Skinner. Thus, while Sabra's tendency to 'modernize' Ibn al-Haytham serves to highlight the purported uniqueness and significance (as well as rightness) of his contribution, it also serves to wrench him slightly out of proper historical focus". The British Journal for the History of Science, 25, 3, 358-9.
  3. "Ibn al-Haytham", Columbia Encyclopedia (Sixth ed.), 2007,, retrieved 2008-01-23
    "Ibn al-Haytham", Columbia Encyclopedia (Sixth ed.), Columbia University Press, 2006,, retrieved 2008-01-23
  4. "Alhazen, Ibn al-Haytham (c. 965-1038)". Retrieved 2008-01-23.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Corbin, Henry (1993; original French 1964), History of Islamic philosophy, transl. Liadain & Philip Sherrard, London: Kegan Paul International in association with Islamic Publications for The Institute of Ismaili Studies, ISBN 0-7103-0416-1, OCLC 221646817 22181827 225287258 22109949 221646817 22181827 225287258
  6. Sabra, A.I. (October–December 2003), "Ibn al-Haytham: brief life of an Arab mathematician", Harvard Magazine,, retrieved 2008-01-23
  7. Grant, Edward (2008), "Alhazen", Encarta Online Encyclopedia, Microsoft,, retrieved 2008-09-16

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