optics

Thomas Wedgwood – possibly the First Photographer

Thomas Wedgwood – possibly the First Photographer

On May 14, 1771, early experimenter in the field of photography Thomas Wedgwood was born. He is the first person known to have thought of creating impermanent pictures by capturing camera images on material coated with a light-sensitive chemical. His practical experiments yielded only shadow image photograms that were not light-fast, but his conceptual breakthrough and partial success have led some historians to call him “the first photographer”. Thomas Wedgwood was born…
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Joseph Jackson Lister – Perfecting the Optical Microscope

Joseph Jackson Lister – Perfecting the Optical Microscope

On January 11, 1786, British amateur opticist and physicist Joseph Jackson Lister was born. In 1826, Lister designed possibly the most important optical microscope ever made. It used an achromatic objective lens corrected for chromatic and spherical aberrations, the resulting image was at the time the clearest produced by any microscope. Joseph Jackson Lister – Family Background Joseph Jackson Lister was the son of a London wine merchant and Quaker. He attended school until 1800 and was then…
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The James Lick Telescope

The James Lick Telescope

On January 3, 1888, the James Lick Telescope saw first light at the Lick observatory, San Jose, USA. The Lick telescope is a refracting telescope with a lens 91 cm in diameter – a major achievement in its day and in its time the largest telescope in the world until 1897. The instrument remains in operation and public viewing is allowed on a limited basis. A lot of astronomical discoveries have been made…
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James Gregory and the Gregorian Telescope

James Gregory and the Gregorian Telescope

In November 1638, Scottish mathematician and astronomer James Gregory was born. Gregory described an early practical design for the reflecting telescope – the Gregorian telescope – and made advances in trigonometry, discovering infinite series representations for several trigonometric functions. James Gregory – Youth and Education James Gregory was born at Drumoak, Aberdeenshire, UK, the youngest of the 3 children of John Gregory, an Episcopalian Church of Scotland minister. Initially he was educated at…
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Narinder Singh Kapany – The Father of Fiber Optics

Narinder Singh Kapany – The Father of Fiber Optics

On October 31, 1926, Indian-born American physicist Narinder Singh Kapany was born. He coined the term fibre optics for the technology transmitting light through fine glass strands in devices from endoscopy to high-capacity telephone lines that has changed the medical, communications and business worlds. Narinder Singh was born in Punjab, India. In 1952, this earlier work led Kapany to conduct studies that led to the invention of optical fibre. A graduate of…
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Frits Zernike and the Phase Contrast Microscope

Frits Zernike and the Phase Contrast Microscope

On July 16 , 1888, Dutch physicist and Nobel Laureate Frits Zernike was born. He is best known for his invention of the phase contrast microscope, an instrument that permits the study of internal cell structure without the need to stain and thus kill the cells. “I am impressed by the great limitations of the human mind. How quick are we to learn, that is, to imitate what others have done or thought before. And how…
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David Brewster and the Invention of the Kaleidoscope

David Brewster and the Invention of the Kaleidoscope

On July 10, 1817, Scottish physicist, mathematician, astronomer, inventor and writer Sir David Brewster received a patent for his kaleidoscope. “kaleidoscope” is derived from Ancient Greek and denotes something like “observation of beautiful forms.” It consists of a cylinder with mirrors containing loose, colored objects such as beads or pebbles and bits of glass. As the viewer looks into one end, light entering the other creates a colorful pattern, due to the…
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John Dollond – Improving the Telescope with Achromatic Lenses

John Dollond – Improving the Telescope with Achromatic Lenses

On June 10, 1706 (10 June O.S. / 21 June N.S.), English optician John Dollond was born. He is known for his successful optics business and his patenting and commercialization of achromatic lenses. John Dolland Background John Dollond came from a Huguenot emigrant family and initially worked as a silk weaver like everyone else in his family, but was also involved in astronomy and optics. He studied Latin, Greek, mathematics, physics, and anatomy…
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David Rittenhouse and the Transit of Venus

David Rittenhouse and the Transit of Venus

On April 8, 1732, American astronomer David Rittenhouse was born. He was an early observer of the atmosphere of Venus. For observations for the transit of Venus on 3 June 1769, he constructed a high precision pendulum clock, an astronomical quadrant, an equal altitude instrument, and an astronomical transit. Besides being an astronomer, he was also inventor, clockmaker, mathematician, surveyor, scientific instrument craftsman and public official as first director of the United States Mint.…
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Harold Eugene Edgerton and the High Speed Photography

Harold Eugene Edgerton and the High Speed Photography

On April 6, 1903, Harold Eugene “Doc” Edgerton, professor for electrical engineering at the Massachussetts Institut of Technology was born.He is largely credited with transforming the stroboscope from an obscure laboratory instrument into a common device. He also was deeply involved with the development of sonar and deep-sea photography, and his equipment was used by Jacques Cousteau in searches for shipwrecks and even the Loch Ness monster. Edgerton was born in Fremont,…
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