In 1816 the Scottish scientist Sir David Brewster developed the kaleidoscope in connection with his experimental work with polarized light, and in 1817 he had his invention patented. Success was immediate. People were fascinated with the "viewing of beautiful forms," which is the English translation of the Greek word kaleidoscope. Within months hundreds of imitations were sold in Paris and London, where the "great philosophical toy," as it was known at the beginning of the nineteenth century, seemed to express the spirit of the times by unifying science and art. The patterns in a kaleidoscope, reminiscent of mandalas, are created by a mechanism that although simple, is based on complex mathematics, utilizing the repeated reflection of primarily simple objects such as glass beads and marbles, or the repeated reflection of the surroundings focused by a clear lens (also called teleidoscope). Today, kaleidoscopes have been used in therapy, as well as an aid in stress management, or as a tool for meditation and inspiration.
For further information about kaleidoscopes and their history, we recommend the website of the Brewster Kaleidoscope Society.