Optical science and engineering plays a major role in modern society. This book is a collection of 19 chapters, grouped into five major areas: history of optics, ultrafast phenomena and the invisible world, light sources, applications of light and quantum optics. This is a very well-illustrated book, with most of the illustrations in color, and is a compilation of articles written by authorities in the relevant area(s) that is meant for the generally educated public.
 
Each chapter comes with a useful bibliography for further details and information. There is a chapter on the work of Ibn al-Haytham, considered to be the “founder” of optics, which makes fascinating reading. Other especially noteworthy chapters include those on optics and renaissance art, quantum biophotonics, optics in medicine, and optical tests of foundations of quantum theory.
 
I believe these chapters can also be used for further reading in undergraduate classes in physics and engineering. In fact, I plan to use the chapter on “Optics of the Eye” for my visual optics course as introductory reading!  The one flaw in the book is the lack of a subject index. Overall, the reader will find a virtual cornucopia of optical subject matter!
 
Review by Vengu Lakshminarayanan, University of Waterloo, Canada

The opinions expressed in the book review section are those of the reviewer and do not necessarily reflect those of OPN or OSA.