When we consider how the understanding of the nature of light was being established prior to the mid-eighteenth century, we are likely to think only of the contributions of such distinguished individuals as Plato, Ibn al-Haitham, Galileo, Huygens, and Newton. Certainly, it was necessary to extend and verify their work, and numerous workers were needed to provide this, but the impact of their efforts generally was incidental to the mainstream of the development of optical knowledge. Accordingly, it hardly seems possible that an uneducated sheepherder could contribute to the erudition of optical knowledge in the mid-eighteenth century. But it happened.
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