Lux Mirabilis: the final exhibition

Lux M

On December 15th, the Science Museum moved the place of celebration of the International Year of Light to the National Museum Soares dos Reis, also at Porto. The exhibition “Lux Mirabilis” opened on this day, and will run until March 27th.

Please see more information at:



Exhibit nº 8





In exhibit nº 8, the solar microscope: how microscopic projections were amplified through projection on a wall of a darkened room, using sunlight, in the 18th and early 19th centuries…


See this plate from ‘Mikroskoopische Vermaaklykheden’, or ‘Microscopic Delights of the Mind and Eye’, a Dutch edition of a book written by the German microscopist Martin Frobenius Ledermuller (1719-1769) in 1760 (in Science & Society Picture Library):


Exhibit nº2


In exhibit nº2, instruments bought by the Physics Laboratory of the Faculty of Science in the beginning of the 20th century, to teach Optics to prospective physicians: Perrin artificial eye, Landolt ophthalmoscope, an optical trial lens set…


Following the creation of the University of Porto and subsequent reform of syllabi (May 1911), the Faculty of Science would become responsible for preparatory courses anticipating the attendance of the Faculty of Medicine: Physics and Chemistry for Biology, and Natural Sciences.

The Museum of Science holds a copy of the Physics for Biology’s syllabus for the academic year 1913-14, with annotations made by Álvaro Machado, a doctor and teacher at the Rodrigues de Freitas High School, who was hired as an assistant professor in early 1912, to teach this subject. Chapter VI, entitled “Radiations”, contemplates the optics of the human eye and description of some vision ailments and pathologies.

The instruments on display were bought in October 1912, to be used in classes (experimental manipulations are marked with an *) .

prog 13-14_2 págs


Exhibit nº1




In exhibit nº1, prisms and Newton rings apparatus, as well as a reference to a fundamental book, “Opticks”…


Left: the title page of Opticks (1704), by Isaac Newton, published 30 years after his theories on light and colour were presented to the Royal Society.

Right: illustration of Newton’s fundamental experiment to show the heterogeneous nature of white light, thereby proving it is composed  of light with different colours, the same that make up the spectrum created by an optical prism.

Light ‘n Box !


The Science Museum of the University of Porto joins the worldwide celebrations of the International Year of Light 2015 by renewing, twice a month, an exhibit in a showcase placed at the impressive entrance hall of the historical building of the University. A selection of pieces is made from the collection of the Museum, related to the understanding of Light and its technological applications, and to the teaching of Optics in the Polytechnic Academy (1837-1911) and in the Faculty of Science (1911- ).