Among Edgerton's cast of characters is Filippo Brunelleschi, who first demonstrated how a familiar object could be painted in a picture exactly as it appeared in a mirror reflection. Brunelleschi communicated the principles of this new perspective to his artist friends Donatello, Masaccio, Masolino, and Fra Angelico. But it was the humanist scholar Leon Battista Alberti who codified Brunelleschi's perspective rules into a simple formula that even mathematically disadvantaged artists could understand. By looking through a window the geometric beauties of this world were revealed without the theological implications of a mirror reflection. Alberti's treatise, "On Painting," spread the new concept throughout Italy and transalpine Europe, even influencing later scientists including Galileo Galilei. In fact, it was Galileo's telescope, called at the time a "perspective tube," that revealed the earth to be not a mirror reflection of the heavens, as Brunelleschi had advocated, but just the other way around.
Building on the knowledge he has accumulated over his distinguished career, Edgerton has written the definitive, up-to-date work on linear perspective, showing how this simple artistic tool did indeed change our present vision of the universe.