Czech scientist Jan Evangelista Purkinje’s drawings of the shapes made from pushing on his closed eye

Czech scientist Jan Evangelista Purknye's (1787-1869) drawings of the shapes made from pushing on his closed eye. He was a proponent of self-experimentation who tested over fifty dangerous drugs on himself, and took to his eye pushing research with abandon: “When I close my eyes, they begin to shine, just like the dots and lines,” he wrote. “It all ends with a dark rhombus with blunt corners, surrounded by a dull shine resembling a phosphorescent light. A total darkness follows.”

Czech scientist Jan Evangelista Purknye‘s (1787-1869) made drawings of the shapes “seen” from pushing on his closed eye. He was a proponent of self-experimentation who tested over fifty dangerous drugs on himself, and took to his eye pushing research with abandon: “When I close my eyes, they begin to shine, just like the dots and lines,” he wrote. “It all ends with a dark rhombus with blunt corners, surrounded by a dull shine resembling a phosphorescent light. A total darkness follows.”


Purkinje’s Vision: The Dawning of Neuroscience,  by Nicholas Wade and Josef Brozek, is an exploration of the scientist’s work on visual phenomena. It is available through Taylor & Francis eBookstore.

Purkinje's Vision cover

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