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Natural Glass Quartz Reading Stone

Invention of Glass who/when , Why not man made Glass
Find out more about how glass started being used by Venetian Craftsman
Application of lenses
a. Magnifying glass
i. People used it to start fire
b. Eye Glasses
5) Scientific Principles behind Eye Glasses
a. Refraction
i. Show timeline for discoveries leading up to refraction
1. Light travelling in straight line
2. Light bends/travel at different speeds in different
ii. Diagrams on how refraction works while using eyeglasses

1) Natural Glass - Quartz

About 1,000 years ago, very few people had the need, or ability to read and
write. Most of them were monks. As they grew older, reading and writing, in not
very well lighted rooms, became very difficult (due to what we now call
PRESBYOPIA). At that time, monks were able to make "Reading Stones".
The "Reading Stones" were a section of a spherical clear and polished natural
Glass (quartz). Imagine a ping-pong ball made of transparent and polished glass:
if you cut the ball in two equal sections, you have two reading stones or actually
what we now call, PLANO-CONVEX magnifying lenses.
By trial and error, the monks realized that larger stones, ones with a larger
spherical radius, would give less magnification than smaller stones, and the flat
part of the stone did not have to be the middle of the sphere.

It is possible that the monks used a similar approach. First, a clay convex plug
was created on a potters wheel (easy to make with an appropriate wood
template), and fired. Next using the clay plug, a bronze Concave "lapping" tool
was casted. By using some type of grinding material between the lapping tool
and the quartz stone, they were able to make reading stones.

2) Invention of Glass who/when , Why not man made Glass

Archaeologists have found evidence of man-made glass which dates back to 4000 BC; this took the
form of glazes used for coating stone beads. It was not until 1500 BC that the first hollow glass
container was made by covering a sand core with a layer of molten glass.
Glass blowing became the most common way to make glass containers from the First Century BC.
However, the glass made during this time was highly coloured due to the impurities of the raw
material. It was not until the First Century AD when colourless glass was produced and then
coloured by the addition of colouring materials.

Early glassmaking was slow and costly, and it required hard work.
Glass blowing and glass pressing were unknown, furnaces were small, the clay
pots were of poor quality, and the heat was hardly sufficient for melting. But
glassmakers eventually learned how to make colored glass jewelry, cosmetics
cases, and tiny jugs and jars. People who could afford themthe priests and
the ruling classesconsidered glass objects as valuable as jewels. Soon
merchants learned that wines, honey, and oils could be carried and preserved
far better in glass than in wood or clay containers.
The blowpipe was invented about 30 B.C., probably along the eastern
Mediterranean coast. This invention made glass production easier, faster, and
cheaper. As a result, glass became available to the common people for the
first time. Glass manufacture became important in all countries under Roman
rule. In fact, the first four centuries of the Christian Era may justly be called
the First Golden Age of Glass. The glassmakers of this time knew how to make
a transparent glass, and they did offhand glass blowing, painting,
and gilding (application of gold leaf). They knew how to build up layers of
glass of different colors and then cut out designs in high relief. The celebrated
Portland vase, which was probably made in Rome about the beginning of the
Christian Era, is an excellent example of this art. This vase is considered one
of the most valuable glass art objects in the world.
The Middle Ages. Little is known about the glass industry between the decline
of the Roman Empire and the 1200's. Glass manufacture had developed in
Venice by the time of the Crusades (A.D. 1096-1270), and by the 1290's an
elaborate guild system of glassworkers had been set up. Equipment was
transferred to the Venetian island of Murano, and the Second Golden Age of
Glass began. Venetian glass blowers created some of the most delicate
and graceful glass the world has ever seen. They
perfected Cristallo glass, a nearly colorless, transparent glass, which
could be blown to extreme thinness in almost any shape. From Cristallo,
they made intricate lacework patterns in goblets, jars, bowls, cups, and vases. In
the 1100's and 1200's, the art of making stained-glass windows reached its
height throughout Europe.

3) Find out more about how glass started being used by Venetian Craftsman
The 13th century Venetians glass blowers are known to have produced reading
stones made of solid glass that was put into hand-held, single lens-type
frames made of horn or wood. These reading stones were similar to hand-held
magnifying lenses of today.
Venetian craftsmen known for their work in glass were making "disks for the eyes." The
finely ground glass disks were given the name lenses by the Italians because of their
similarity in shape to lentil beans. For hundreds of years thereafter, lenses were called
glass lentils.
Read more:
Magnifying glasses became common in the thirteenth century, but these are
cumbersome, especially when one is writing. Craftsmen in Venice began
making small disks of glass, convex on both sides, that could be worn in a

4) Application of lenses
a. Magnifying Glass
Glass of reasonable quality had become relatively cheap and in the
major glass-making centers of Venice and Florence techniques for
grinding and polishing glass had reached a high state of development.
Now one of the perennial problems faced by aging scholars could be
solved. With age, the eye progressively loses its power to
accommodate, that is to change its focus from faraway objects to
nearby ones. This condition, known as presbyopia, becomes noticeable
for most people in their forties, when they can no longer focus on
letters held at a comfortable distance from the eye. Magnifying glasses
became common in the thirteenth century, but these are cumbersome,
especially when one is writing.
The Romans were probably seeing through the glass and discovered that the objects
looked larger. They experimented with distinct shapes and found that glass that was
thicker at the center and thinner on the exterior magnified the object that was being
observed. They also discovered that the suns rays could be concentrated sufficiently
to start a fire.

b. Eyeglasses

After the 13th century, eyeglasses were built with either convex or concave
lens styles, which effectively cured either myopia (nearsightedness) or
hyperopia (farsightedness). While near and far-sightedness were the most
prevalent eye conditions, many still suffered from astigmatism and presbyopia
(both near and far-sightedness).

5) Scientific Principles of Eyeglasses

a. Refraction
i. Light Travelling in a straight line


Euclid (Alexandria) In his Optica he noted that light travels in straight lines
and described the law of reflection. He believed that vision involves rays going
from the eyes to the object seen and he studied the relationship between the
apparent sizes of objects and the angles that they subtend at the eye.

100 BC
150 AD

Hero (also known as Heron) of Alexandria. In his Catoptrica, Hero showed by

a geometrical method that the actual path taken by a ray of light reflected from
a plane mirror is shorter than any other reflected path that might be drawn
between the source and point of observation.

ii. Light Travelling at different speeds/bend in different mediums


Claudius Ptolemy (Alexandria). In a twelfth-century latin translation from the

arabic that is assigned to Ptolemy, a study of refraction, including atmospheric
refraction, was described. It was suggested that the angle of refraction is
proportional to the angle of incidence.


Ibn-al-Haitham ( also known as Alhazen) (b. Basra). In his investigations, he

used spherical and parabolic mirrors and was aware of spherical aberration. He
also investigated the magnification produced by lenses and atmospheric
refraction. His work was translated into Latin and became accessible to later
European scholars.


Robert Grosseteste (England). Magister scholarum of

the University ofOxford and a proponent of the view that theory should be
compared with observation, Grosseteste considered that the properties of light
have particular significance in natural philosophy and stressed the importance of
mathematics and geometry in their study. He believed that colours are related to
intensity and that they extend from white to black, white being the purest and
lying beyond red with black lying below blue. The rainbow was conjectured to
be a consequence of reflection and refraction of sunlight by layers in a 'watery
cloud' but the effect of individual droplets was not considered. He held the view,
shared by the earlier Greeks, that vision involves emanations from the eye to the
object perceived.


Roger Bacon (England). A follower of Grosseteste at Oxford, Bacon extended

Grosseteste's work on optics. He considered that the speed of light is finite and
that it is propagated through a medium in a manner analogous to the
propagation of sound. In his Opus Maius, Bacon described his studies of the
magnification of small objects using convex lenses and suggested that they
could find application in the correction of defective eyesight. He attributed the
phenomenon of the rainbow to the reflection of sunlight from individual

b) Diagrams on how refraction works while using eyeglasses

As explained by Franciscus Donders (1818-1889),a Dutch physiologist, the cause of

farsightedness is that the eyeball is tooshallow and that the image actually focuses beyond
the eye. To correct hyperopia, convex corrective lenses are used to make the light rays
converge or come together on the retina. Some people suffer from myopia
or nearsightedness, in which the image is focused in front of the retina so that only
nearobjects can be seen clearly. Concave lenses can be worn to diverge the lightrays and
permit light from far away objects to focus directly on the retina.A condition called
presbyopia occurs when the lens of the eye loses it elasticity and it can no longer change

shape. The condition is usually associatedwith age and becomes evident after 40. Presbyopia
causes people to be somewhat farsighted. Sometimes this is corrected by wearing bifocals, or
eyeglassesthat have a second lens below the top lens. A person with presbyopia can
lookthrough the bottom lens while reading and use the top lens for distant objects.
Read more:

A significant development in the making of eyeglasses was the introduction

of the concave lenses, solving the problem of nearsightedness (distance
Eyeglasses for distance vision have what is called Minus Power Lenses:
these lenses move the focal point from the front of the retina onto the retina

It is possible that the first Minus Power Lenses were what we now
call FLAT Plano-Concave lenses: