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Images: Real and Virtual, Projected and Perceived, from Kepler to Dechales

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image of Early Science and Medicine

In developing a new theory of vision in Ad Vitellionem paralipomena (1604) Kepler introduced a new optical concept, pictura, which is an image projected on to a screen by a camera obscura. He distinguished this pictura from an imago, the traditional image of medieval optics that existed only in the imagination. By the 1670s a new theory of optical imagery had been developed, and Kepler's pictura and imago became real and virtual images, two aspects of a unified concept of image. The new concept of image developed out of a synthesis of Kepler's determination of the geometrical location of a pictura as the limit, or focus, of refracted pencils of rays and the triangulation used by a single eye to determine the perceived location of an imago. The distinction between real and imaginary images was largely developed by Gilles Personne de Roberval and the Jesuits Francesco Eschinardi and Claude François Milliet Dechales.

Affiliations: 1: University of Minnesota


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