Article ID: CBB475868257

Brennspiegel: Von Alhazen zu Leonardo da Vinci (2021)


After an introduction to Greek and Arabic prehistory of burning mirrors, this study presents a catalogue of twenty-two short texts on focal mirrors written during the late medieval period by almost all the major medieval scientists, from Robert Grosseteste and Roger Bacon to Regiomontanus and Leonardo da Vinci, including a passage from Grosseteste’s or one of his students’ De calore solis, concerned with the heat of the sun. The catalogue starts with two extracts from Ibn al-Haitam (Alhazen), only one of which had been translated into Latin. The geometric approach dominates these texts, but detailed information on the construction of parabolic mirrors is often included. Johannes Fontana wrote a treatise on the steel of the mirrors. Johannes Fusoris corrected essential errors from the great work of Witelo. The construction of great mirrors was still difficult, and encountered major obstacles even in the modern era up to the 20th century. Leonardo was able to observe experiments with focal mirrors in Florence as early as 1470 and in 1513-14, during his stay in Rome, he concentrated on the difficulties of the practical production of focal mirrors. The multitude and importance of these medieval writings on burning mirrors show that the Arabic suggestion for heat generation from sunlight was taken very seriously. Last but not least, an aim for trying their construction was to reduce the great need for fuel in the building industry, especially where lime and tens of thousands of bricks had to be baked.

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Authors & Contributors
Nader El-Bizri
Beatrice Sisana
Sylla, Edith Dudley
Suppes, Patrick C.
Sorge, Valeria
Rommevaux, Sabine
Micrologus: Nature, Sciences and Medieval Societies
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Nuncius: Annali di Storia della Scienza
British Journal for the History of Science
Archive for History of Exact Sciences
Università degli Studi
Fabrizio Serra Editore
CSLI Publications
Natural philosophy
Bacon, Roger
Grosseteste, Robert
Thomas Aquinas, Saint
Time Periods
Early modern
17th century
16th century
Venice (Italy)

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