AJO History of Ophthalmology Series: Wilhelm Kühne and Optograms

Soon after the discovery of “visual purple” or rhodopsin by physiologist Franz Boll of the University of Rome in 1876, Wilhelm “Willy” Friedrick Kühne (1837-1900), a physiologist and Helmhotz's successor in Heidelberg, intensely studied its properties. Comparing the retina to a camera, he convinced himself by experiment on a rabbit and a guillotined human criminal that the visual purple retained a photographic image or “optogram” of whatever object was seen just before death. Kühne's observation seized the popular imagination. Photographs were taken of the eyes of murder victims in hopes that they would reveal images of the perpetrators. Jules Verne (Read more...)

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