Holoscopes, Wave Photographs and Lensless Photography: Changing Visions of Holography

Johnston, S. F. (2003) Holoscopes, Wave Photographs and Lensless Photography: Changing Visions of Holography. ', International Conference on Optical Holography and Its Applications, Kiev, Ukraine, 24-26 May 2003. (Unpublished)

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The origins of new scientific subjects traditionally are difficult to describe, because the genesis of new ideas can frequently be tentative. Novel concepts can be difficult to perceive, and researchers naturally mutate them into more familiar guises for better understanding. The conceptual pigeonholes into which a new subject is placed may be constructed uniquely by each investigator, making the similarity or generality of the various concepts difficult to discern. Indeed, identifying any such similarities may prove contentious – a construction based as much on our culture as on intellectual reality. This paper deals with five far-flung groupings of researchers that have subsequently been identified with early work on aspects of the field now known as ‘holography’. These groups explored aspects of optics, imaging and information theory in profoundly different ways, beginning with specific goals and constructing different vocabularies and physical explanations of their work. Their disciplinary and professional backgrounds also differed from each other and from their contemporaries. The historical contexts to be examined are: the industrial laboratory of Dennis Gabor at British Thomson-Houston in England; the Californian investigations of Paul Kirkpatrick and his students; the ideas of Adolf Lohmann in Germany; the research of Yury Denisyuk at the Vavilov Institute; and, the research of Emmett Leith and Juris Upatnieks at the classified Willow Run Laboratory in Michigan. Each of these locations yielded a complementary concept of holography. Seeing them all as contributing distinct perspectives to the same new subject arguably took until about 1967. Gabor, working between 1947 and 1956, always conceived his invention of ‘holoscopy’ or ‘wavefront reconstruction’ as a solution for the aberrated imaging of electron microscopes, and always as a rotationally-symmetric optical system. Gordon Rogers, also working in England during this time, conceived it similarly, if more broadly, as ‘diffraction microscopy’. For Kirkpatrick and his students Hussein El-Sum and Albert Baez, working from about 1949 to the late 1950s during and after their PhD studies, ‘wavefront reconstruction’ was a concept that could be applied to other forms of microscopy. Adolf Lohmann picked up Gabor’s ‘wavefront reconstruction’ but interpreted it in terms of information theory in 1956, partly because of his exposure to radar theory immediately after the war. Yury Denisyuk, developing ‘wave photography’ between 1958 and 1962 for his Kandidat degree, conceived his technique as rotationally symmetric but in far more general terms than earlier workers had done, by extension from Lippmann photography and using reflective objects. And Leith and Upatnieks, between 1960 and 1964, based their ‘lensless photography’ on off-axis optics, diffuse reflection and then the newly-available laser. For the Willow Run workers, ‘lensless photography’ was understood in terms of their melding of communication theory with optics, first conceived for synthetic aperture radar. Not until late 1966, after the rediscovery of Denisyuk’s reflection holography at several American laboratories, was an interpretation of holography widely disseminated interpreting ‘wave photography’ and ‘lensless photography’ as powerful implementations of a more general subject. This deepening of a holographic perspective has continued in modern optics, making recent understandings of holography both ubiquitous and subliminal.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Johnston, Professor Sean
Authors: Johnston, S. F.
Subjects:H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Q Science > QC Physics
T Technology > TR Photography
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Interdisciplinary Studies

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
339051Holography, holographers, and their historySean JohnstonThe Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland (CARNEGIE)UNSPECIFIEDIS - INTERDISCIPLINARY STUDIES
339052Holography, holographers, and their historySean JohnstonBritish Academy (BRIT-ACAD)SG-34511IS - INTERDISCIPLINARY STUDIES
339053Holography, holographers, and their historySean JohnstonShearwater Foundation (SHEARWATER)UNSPECIFIEDIS - INTERDISCIPLINARY STUDIES