National Capital Section
of the Optical Society of America

Seventh 2013-2014 meeting of the
National Capital Section of the Optical Society of America

At the NASA Goddard Visitor Center
Tuesday, May 20, 2014
Sponsored by the National Capital Section of the Optical Society of America
and the
DC-Northern Virginia Chapter of the IEEE Photonics Society

This meeting will be held at the NASA Visitor Center. The winning optics-optoelectronics related pre-college science fair exhibits and the winning grad student posters from the April 4 competition will be displayed before the meeting and we will all have a chance to talk with the students--always an interesting event.
NOTE: Those who have attended the May meeting in the past will remember that the meeting was in the Goddard Recreation Center. The Recreation Center is being remodeled, and the meeting will be held in the Visitor Center this year. See the directions below.

After Dinner Talk

Prof. Charles M. Falco
College of Optical Sciences and Department of Physics
University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona


Recently, renowned artist David Hockney observed that certain drawings and paintings from as early as the Renaissance seemed almost "photographic" in detail. Following an extensive visual investigation of western art of the past 1000 years, he made the revolutionary claim that artists even of the prominence of van Eyck and Bellini must have used optical aids. However, many art historians insisted there was no supporting evidence for such a remarkable assertion. In this talk I show a wealth of optical evidence for his claim that Hockney and I subsequently discovered during an unusual, and remarkably productive, collaboration between an artist and a scientist. I also discuss the imaging properties of the "mirror lens" (concave mirror), and some of the implications this work has for the history of science as well as the history of art (and the modern fields of machine vision and computerized image analysis). These discoveries convincingly demonstrate optical instruments were in use -- by artists, not scientists -- nearly 200 years earlier than commonly thought possible, and account for the remarkable transformation in the reality of portraits that occurred early in the 15th century.

(for more information see


Professor Charles Falco has joint appointments in Optical Sciences and Physics at the University of Arizona where he holds the UA Chair of Condensed Matter Physics. He is a Fellow of four professional societies (the American Physical Society, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the Optical Society of America, and the Society of Photo-optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE)), has published more than 250 scientific manuscripts, co-edited two books, has seven U.S. patents, and given over 400 invited talks at conferences, research institutions, and cultural organizations in 30 countries. However, in addition to his scientific research, he was co-curator of the Solomon R. Guggenheim museum's "The Art of the Motorcycle" which, with over 2 million visitors in New York, Chicago, Bilbao, and the Guggenheim Las Vegas, was by far the most successful exhibition of industrial design ever assembled. More recently, he and the world-renowned artist David Hockney found artists of such repute as van Eyck, Bellini and Caravaggio used optical projections in creating portions of their work. Two international conferences have been organized around these discoveries, and recognition for them includes the 2008 Ziegfield Lecture Award from the National Art Education Association.

A photograph is available by clicking on the link under the photo at:

Tuesday 20 May 2014

5:30 PM: Students may set up projects at the NASA Visitor Center

6:00 PM: Social Hour and viewing of this years winning Optics Projects from the Washington Area Regional Science Fairs and the April 10 grad student poster competition

Pizza and soft drinks will be served throughout the evening. The cost will be $10 or $5. for students. Students who are exhibiting and a parent are free.

7:00 PM: LECTURE "THE SCIENCE OF OPTICS; THE HISTORY OF ART", Dr. Charles M. Falco, University of Arizona, Tucson

DIRECTIONS to NASA Goddard Visitor Center

From the Capital Beltway (I-95/I-495) exit onto the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, North, towards Baltimore.
Almost immediately, exit onto Greenbelt Road (Rt. 193) East, following signs towards NASA Goddard Space Flight Center [you will turn
left from the exit ramp onto Greenbelt Road].
If you are approaching from the Outer Loop of the Beltway, on the exit road to the Baltimore-Washington Parkway there is a slip road
that leads directly on to Greenbelt Road eastbound, so, in this case, you would not turn "left" on to Greenbelt Road

Traveling East on Greenbelt Rd,
Take Greenbelt Road east for approximately two miles. The main gate will be on the left at the first traffic light after Cipriano Road. Continue on to the next traffic light and turn left onto ICESat Road and take your first left left to reach the Visitor Center.

George Simonis
(301) 394-5754

Jim Heaney
(301) 286-9133


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