Understanding the Properties of Light to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe
Anthony Ambrosius Aurelius
“The first steps toward understanding the properties of light were made in the 3rd century B.C. by the Greek mathematician, Euclid. Euclid achieved this feat by pondering depth perception, specifically the simple fact that when things are further away they seem smaller and when things are closer they seem larger. Euclid studied how larger objects further away from the observer appear to be near and smaller objects closer toward the observer appear to be further away. Euclid came up with an elegant solution to rectify why this occurs which is that the eye of the observer, the close up object, and the further away object all reside upon the same horizontal line therefore the geometry necessary to achieve this illusion is forced by nature.
Euclid discovered that light travels in straight lines which marked the beginning of the scientific understanding of the properties of light. This by default means that if light could be diverted from its straight line path (e.g. bending around a large star) it would change the way the image is observed.
In the summer of 1609, Galileo Galilei ventured from his home in Padua, Italy to Venice, Italy, the capital of the Venetian republic. Galilei had bright red hair, a full beard, and was well known for his fine wine and anti-establishment viewpoints. By this point in time, Galilei had built a reputation as a natural philosopher and as a mathematician which is why he was a valuable asset to the Venetian’s. Although Galilei had an income from his work as a professor, he was never far from financial ruin, often teetering upon the edge of financial over expenditure. When Galilei’s father died in 1591, Galilei who was the eldest of 4 surviving siblings, became the head of the household. Galilei had to support himself, his brother who was a poor itinerant musician, and he was responsible for his sister’s dowries.
By 1609, when Galilei came to Venice, he still owed his brother in laws a significant amount of money which prompted Galilei to always be in search of a revenue generating scheme.
During the 17th century, the Dutch spyglass was cutting edge technology but the details as to how it worked were shrouded in mystery and secrecy. The only information Galilei had was that”