A glowing tribute to one of Islam’s—and the world’s—greatest early scientists.
Born in Basra in 965 C.E., Ibn al-Haytham (known in Western Europe as “Alhazen”) grew into a polymath whose experiments, notably with a camera obscura, demonstrated several properties of light. Among other achievements, he also mapped the eye’s main structures, invented a water clock, and outlined the modern scientific method. Though Romero doesn’t describe this last, and possibly most significant, contribution in any detail, even newly independent readers will find her simply phrased descriptions of his studies in light, optics, and other fields illuminating. The illustrations mix historical images and color photos of locales as they look today with painted reconstructions created for a recent film and related traveling exhibit. If some of this new art is likely idealized—in one scene a group discussing some scientific notion includes both men and women—views of the handsome, realistically drawn genius experimenting and recording results add immediacy to the narrative. The author doesn’t provide much biographical detail, but she does highlight his role as a luminary of Islam’s “Golden Age” and, along with a page of “Cool Facts,” supplies peeks at his influence on other early researchers.
An illuminating introduction to both a significant era in the history of science and one of its brightest stars. (review quiz, index) (Biography. 8-11)