Although many scientists experimented with sending light down thin fibres of glass by refracting or bending its path, it wasn’t until 1953 that a flexible bundle of around 10,000 fibres – a 'fibrescope' – carried clear images over a short distance. In perfecting these techniques, Narinder Singh Kapany – born on this day in 1926 – is regarded as the “Father of Fiber Optics". His ideas inspired the first fibre optic gastroscope, fetching images from deep inside the human body and paving the way for modern key-hole surgery. Elsewhere fibre optics is used for high-speed communication, and in engineering, allowing – just as in the human body – a window on the workings of internal structures. Professor Kapany’s work is also perhaps a reminder for young scientists to question everything – “One day the professor told us that light ‘always travels in a straight line’. But that can’t be true, I thought – it must be bent sometimes”.
Written by John Ankers
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.
BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.