From Sight to Light: An Interview

A. Mark Smith’s new book is a magisterial history of optics over the course of two millennia. From Sight to Light: The Passage from Ancient to Modern Optics (University of Chicago Press, 2015) suggests that the transition from ancient toward modern optics was accompanied by a turn in optical studies from a concern with explaining sight to a focus on light by optical scholars. In the course of an amazingly comprehensive narrative of optical studies from Aristotle through the seventeenth century, From Sight to Light offers clear and persuasive discussions of the historical understanding of color and of visual illusions, the use of mirrors as optical devices, the relationships between physical and psychological theories of visual perception, and the study of reflection and refraction. To listen to our conversation about the book for the New Books in STS podcast, head right over to this link.