Thursday, March 29, 2007


A lens is a device for either concentrating or diverging light, normally formed from a piece of shaped glass. Analogous devices used with other types of electromagnetic radiation are also called lenses: for instance, a microwave lens can be made from paraffin wax.
The earliest records of lenses date to Ancient Greece, with Aristophanes' play The Clouds (424 BC) mentioning a burning-glass (a convex lens used to focus the sun's rays to produce fire). The writings of Pliny the Elder also show that burning-glasses were recognized to the Roman Empire, and mentions what is possibly the first use of a corrective lens: Nero was known to watch the gladiatorial games throughout a concave-shaped emerald (presumably to correct for myopia). Seneca the Younger (3 BC--65) described the magnifying effect of a glass globe filled with water.Widespread use of lenses did not happen until the invention of spectacles, probably in Italy in the 1280s.

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