Optics in Ancient China

International Year of Light Blog

The Warring States period of China, between 475 and 221 BCE, was a time of academic and scholarly prosperity when many schools of learning were set up. Some are well-known in the world today, such as Confucianism and Taoism, but some are not so well-known. One school that is little known in the west but is particularly important with regard to science and technology is Mohism, founded by Mo Zi, who paid great attention to natural science and engineering. Among his many contributions, it is noteworthy to recall his achievements in optics since we are celebrating the International Year of Light in 2015. His major contributions include: an outline of the basic concepts of linear optics, the straight-line propagation of light, images and shadows, the reflection of light by plane, concave and convex mirrors, the pinhole camera, and the refraction of light. These are recorded in the Book of Mo…

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