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#1 [Permalink] Posted on 11th November 2010 15:41

For a thousand years, Muslim civilisation stretched from southern Spain as far as China. From the 7th century onwards, scholars of many faiths built on the ancient knowledge of the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans, making breakthroughs that paved the way for the Renaissance.

The discoveries made by men and women in Muslim civilisation have left their mark on the way we live today.

How Islamic inventors changed the world

 http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/how-islamic-inventors-changed-the-world-469452.html

From coffee to cheques and the three-course meal, the Muslim world has given us many innovations that we take for granted in daily life. Here are 19 of the most influential:

1 An Arab named Khalid was tending his goats in the Kaffa region of southern Ethiopia, when he noticed his animals became livelier after eating a certain berry. He boiled the berries to make the first coffee. Certainly the first record of the drink is of beans exported from Ethiopia to Yemen. By the late 15th century it had arrived in Mecca and Turkey from where it made its way to Venice in 1645. It was brought to England in 1650 by a Turk named Pasqua Rosee who opened the first coffee house in Lombard Street in the City of London. The Arabic qahwa became the Turkish kahve then the Italian caffé and then English coffee. 

2 The ancient Greeks thought our eyes emitted rays, like a laser, which enabled us to see. The first person to realise that light enters the eye, rather than leaving it, was the 10th-century Muslim mathematician, astronomer and physicist Ibn al-Haitham. He invented the first pin-hole camera after noticing the way light came through a hole in window shutters. The smaller the hole, the better the picture, he worked out, and set up the first Camera Obscura (from the Arab word qamara for a dark or private room). He is also credited with being the first man to shift physics from a philosophical activity to an experimental one.

3 A thousand years before the Wright brothers a Muslim poet, astronomer, musician and engineer named Abbas ibn Firnas made several attempts to construct a flying machine. In 852 he jumped from the minaret of the Grand Mosque in Cordoba using a loose cloak stiffened with wooden struts. He hoped to glide like a bird. He didn't. But the cloak slowed his fall, creating what is thought to be the first parachute, and leaving him with only minor injuries. In 875, aged 70, having perfected a machine of silk and eagles' feathers he tried again, jumping from a mountain. He flew to a significant height and stayed aloft for ten minutes but crashed on landing - concluding, correctly, that it was because he had not given his device a tail so it would stall on landing. Baghdad international airport and a crater on the Moon are named after him.

Washing and bathing are religious requirements for Muslims, which is perhaps why they perfected the recipe for soap which we still use today. The ancient Egyptians had soap of a kind, as did the Romans who used it more as a pomade. But it was the Arabs who combined vegetable oils with sodium hydroxide and aromatics such as thyme oil. One of the Crusaders' most striking characteristics, to Arab nostrils, was that they did not wash. Shampoo was introduced to England by a Muslim who opened Mahomed's Indian Vapour Baths on Brighton seafront in 1759 and was appointed Shampooing Surgeon to Kings George IV and William IV.

Distillation, the means of separating liquids through differences in their boiling points, was invented around the year 800 by Islam's foremost scientist, Jabir ibn Hayyan, who transformed alchemy into chemistry, inventing many of the basic processes and apparatus still in use today - liquefaction, crystallisation, distillation, purification, oxidisation, evaporation and filtration. As well as discovering sulphuric and nitric acid, he invented the alembic still, giving the world intense rosewater and other perfumes and alcoholic spirits (although drinking them is haram, or forbidden, in Islam). Ibn Hayyan emphasised systematic experimentation and was the founder of modern chemistry.

6 The crank-shaft is a device which translates rotary into linear motion and is central to much of the machinery in the modern world, not least the internal combustion engine. One of the most important mechanical inventions in the history of humankind, it was created by an ingenious Muslim engineer called al-Jazari to raise water for irrigation. His 1206 Book of Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices shows he also invented or refined the use of valves and pistons, devised some of the first mechanical clocks driven by water and weights, and was the father of robotics. Among his 50 other inventions was the combination lock.

7 Quilting is a method of sewing or tying two layers of cloth with a layer of insulating material in between. It is not clear whether it was invented in the Muslim world or whether it was imported there from India or China. But it certainly came to the West via the Crusaders. They saw it used by Saracen warriors, who wore straw-filled quilted canvas shirts instead of armour. As well as a form of protection, it proved an effective guard against the chafing of the Crusaders' metal armour and was an effective form of insulation - so much so that it became a cottage industry back home in colder climates such as Britain and Holland.

8 The pointed arch so characteristic of Europe's Gothic cathedrals was an invention borrowed from Islamic architecture. It was much stronger than the rounded arch used by the Romans and Normans, thus allowing the building of bigger, higher, more complex and grander buildings. Other borrowings from Muslim genius included ribbed vaulting, rose windows and dome-building techniques. Europe's castles were also adapted to copy the Islamic world's - with arrow slits, battlements, a barbican and parapets. Square towers and keeps gave way to more easily defended round ones. Henry V's castle architect was a Muslim.

9 Many modern surgical instruments are of exactly the same design as those devised in the 10th century by a Muslim surgeon called al-Zahrawi. His scalpels, bone saws, forceps, fine scissors for eye surgery and many of the 200 instruments he devised are recognisable to a modern surgeon. It was he who discovered that catgut used for internal stitches dissolves away naturally (a discovery he made when his monkey ate his lute strings) and that it can be also used to make medicine capsules. In the 13th century, another Muslim medic named Ibn Nafis described the circulation of the blood, 300 years before William Harvey discovered it. Muslims doctors also invented anaesthetics of opium and alcohol mixes and developed hollow needles to suck cataracts from eyes in a technique still used today.

10 The windmill was invented in 634 for a Persian caliph and was used to grind corn and draw up water for irrigation. In the vast deserts of Arabia, when the seasonal streams ran dry, the only source of power was the wind which blew steadily from one direction for months. Mills had six or 12 sails covered in fabric or palm leaves. It was 500 years before the first windmill was seen in Europe.

11 The technique of inoculation was not invented by Jenner and Pasteur but was devised in the Muslim world and brought to Europe from Turkey by the wife of the English ambassador to Istanbul in 1724. Children in Turkey were vaccinated with cowpox to fight the deadly smallpox at least 50 years before the West discovered it.

12 The fountain pen was invented for the Sultan of Egypt in 953 after he demanded a pen which would not stain his hands or clothes. It held ink in a reservoir and, as with modern pens, fed ink to the nib by a combination of gravity and capillary action.

13 The system of numbering in use all round the world is probably Indian in origin but the style of the numerals is Arabic and first appears in print in the work of the Muslim mathematicians al-Khwarizmi and al-Kindi around 825. Algebra was named after al-Khwarizmi's book, Al-Jabr wa-al-Muqabilah, much of whose contents are still in use. The work of Muslim maths scholars was imported into Europe 300 years later by the Italian mathematician Fibonacci. Algorithms and much of the theory of trigonometry came from the Muslim world. And Al-Kindi's discovery of frequency analysis rendered all the codes of the ancient world soluble and created the basis of modern cryptology.

14 Ali ibn Nafi, known by his nickname of Ziryab (Blackbird) came from Iraq to Cordoba in the 9th century and brought with him the concept of the three-course meal - soup, followed by fish or meat, then fruit and nuts. He also introduced crystal glasses (which had been invented after experiments with rock crystal by Abbas ibn Firnas - see No 4).

15 Carpets were regarded as part of Paradise by Muslims, thanks to their advanced weaving techniques, new tinctures from Islamic chemistry and highly developed sense of pattern and arabesque which were the basis of Islam's non-representational art. In contrast, Europe's floors were distinctly earthly, not to say earthy, until Arabian and Persian carpets were introduced. In England, as Erasmus recorded, floors were "covered in rushes, occasionally renewed, but so imperfectly that the bottom layer is left undisturbed, sometimes for 20 years, harbouring expectoration, vomiting, the leakage of dogs and men, ale droppings, scraps of fish, and other abominations not fit to be mentioned". Carpets, unsurprisingly, caught on quickly.

18 The modern cheque comes from the Arabic saqq, a written vow to pay for goods when they were delivered, to avoid money having to be transported across dangerous terrain. In the 9th century, a Muslim businessman could cash a cheque in China drawn on his bank in Baghdad.

19 By the 9th century, many Muslim scholars took it for granted that the Earth was a sphere. The proof, said astronomer Ibn Hazm, "is that the Sun is always vertical to a particular spot on Earth". It was 500 years before that realisation dawned on Galileo. The calculations of Muslim astronomers were so accurate that in the 9th century they reckoned the Earth's circumference to be 40,253.4km - less than 200km out. The scholar al-Idrisi took a globe depicting the world to the court of King Roger of Sicily in 1139.

18 Though the Chinese invented saltpetre gunpowder, and used it in their fireworks, it was the Arabs who worked out that it could be purified using potassium nitrate for military use. Muslim incendiary devices terrified the Crusaders. By the 15th century they had invented both a rocket, which they called a "self-moving and combusting egg", and a torpedo - a self-propelled pear-shaped bomb with a spear at the front which impaled itself in enemy ships and then blew up.

19 Medieval Europe had kitchen and herb gardens, but it was the Arabs who developed the idea of the garden as a place of beauty and meditation. The first royal pleasure gardens in Europe were opened in 11th-century Muslim Spain. Flowers which originated in Muslim gardens include the carnation and the tulip.

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#2 [Permalink] Posted on 11th November 2010 15:43

INSPIRED BY ISLAM - MUSLIM INVENTIONS



“If there is much misunderstanding in the West about the nature of Islam, there is also much ignorance about the debt our own culture and civilisation owe to the Islamic World. It is a failure, which stems, I think from the straight jacket of history, which we have inherited. The medieval Islamic world, from Central Asia to the shores of the Atlantic, was a world where scholars and men of learning flourished. But because we have tended to see Islam as the enemy of the West, as an alien culture, society and system of belief, we have tended to ignore or erase its great relevance to our own history.”



Prince Charles in a speech “Islam and the West”, Oxford, 27th October 1993

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#3 [Permalink] Posted on 11th November 2010 15:45

The Watch

The first watch was made by Kutbi, a renowned watch-maker of his time. During the Abbasid period, which lasted between 750-1258 the use of a watch became quite common. Abbasid is the dynastic name generally given to the caliph of Baghdad, the second of the two great Sunni dynasties of the Islamic empire, that overthrew the Umayyad caliphs from all but Spain. Harun al-Rashid, whose reign of the Abbasid dynasty brought the "Golden Age" to the Abbassids, once despatched a watch as a gift to his celebrated contemporary, the French Emperor Charlemagne. At that time a watch was considered a novel thing in Europe and was regarded as an object of wonder. Mustansariya, the well-known university of Baghdad had a unique clock with a dial blue like the sky and a sun which continually moved over its surface denoting the time. Maulana Shibli, the famous Urdu litterateur, has described a watch of Damascus in the following words: "The watch was kept in the door of a wall. It contained copper plates and twelve doors. There was an Eagle standing in the 1st and the last plate. At the end of each hour, these two eagles lay down on the copper plates and hence a sound was produced to show the time. At twelve all the doors were closed. This system was being repeated continuously". The construction of water clocks was also common in Islamic Countries.

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#4 [Permalink] Posted on 11th November 2010 15:47
Astronomy and Navigation Giralda or "The Tower of Seville", was the first observatory in Europe. It was built in 1190 A.D., in the Spanish town of Seville under the supervision of the celebrated Mathematician, Jabir Ibn Afiah. It was meant for the observation of heavenly bodies. It was later turned into a bell tower by Christian conquerors, who, after the expulsion of the Moors, did not know how to use it.
The many references to astronomy in the Qur'an and hadith, and the injunctions to learn, inspired the early Muslim scholars to study the heavens. They integrated the earlier works of the Indians, Persians and Greeks into a new production. Muslims were inspired to investigate and study the Earth, the features of the land, methods of mapping and so on. Many new stars were discovered, as we see in their Arabic names - Algol, Deneb, Betelgeuse, Rigel, Aldebaran. Astronomical tables were compiled, among them the Toledan tables, which were used by Copernicus, Tycho Brahe and Kepler. These works were used to determine the direction of Makkah from various locations, to improve navigation and surveying, and establishing correct time keeping and calenders. Using longitude and latitude, calculating the circumference of the Earth within a few hundred miles, the Muslim geographers greatly improved on Ptolemy's famous 'Almagest', that it is not certain how much of the work actually belongs to the famous Greek, and how much was added to successive copies. Muslim astronomers were the first to establish observatories, like the one built at Mugharah by Hulagu, the son of Genghis Khan, in Persia, and they invented instruments such as the quadrant and astrolabe, which led to advances not only in astronomy but in oceanic navigation, contributing to the European age of exploration. Other instruments used by muslim astronomers and navigators were the quadrant and the planisphere, a large, complicated device for plotting stars. Observatories were set up in desert locations where the best observations could be made. Accurate measurement of time used very similar mathematical skills to those needed for navigation. Al-Biruni, a famous Muslim scholar of the 11th century, wrote a mathematical treatise on shadows that helped regulate sundials accurately.

What's more, Al-Biruni, worked out that the earth is round and calculated its circumference. He also stated that the earth spins on its axis and rotates around the sun, nearly six hundred years before Galileo. LOL
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#5 [Permalink] Posted on 11th November 2010 15:53
Mathematics Bold experiments and unique innovations in the field of mathematics were carried out by Muslim mathematicians who developed this science to an exceptionally high degree. Their contributions stretched from the end of the eighth century to about the middle of the fifteenth century. The regions from which the "Muslim mathematicians" came was centred on Iran/Iraq but varied with military conquest during the period. At its greatest extent it stretched to the west through Turkey and North Africa to include most of Spain, and to the east as far as the borders of China.
Algebra may be said to have been invented by the Greeks, but according to Oelsner, "it was confined to furnishing amusement for the plays of the goblet". Muslims developed it and applied it to higher purposes. Thus, the first great Muslim mathematician, the Persian Al-Khawarizmi, invented the subject of algebra (al-Jabr), which gave mathematics a whole new dimension and development path so much broader in concept than before. Another important aspect of the introduction of algebraic ideas was that it allowed mathematics to be applied to itself in a way which had not happened before.
Al-Khawarizmi also introduced a method similar to long division to extract the square root (jithr) of a number. He was the first to introduce the concept of mal (power) for the squared unknown variable. He perfected and developed the Hindu geometric representations of quadratic equations having two variables, e.g the circle, ellipse, parabola and hyperbola (conic sections) etc. Al-Khawarizmi's work, in Latin translation, brought the Arabic numerals along with the mathematics to Europe, through Spain. The word "algorithm" is derived from his name. The Muslims invented the symbol for zero (The word "cipher" comes from Arabic sifr), and they organized the numbers into the decimal system - base 10. They invented spherical trigonometry, discovered the tangent and were first, "to introduce the sine of arc in Trigonometrical Calculations" Zero is an invaluable addition made to mathematical science by the Muslims. They have also shown remarkable progress in mathematical geography.
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#6 [Permalink] Posted on 11th November 2010 15:54
Medical Sciences The Muslims have made a lasting contribution to the development of Medical Science. Al-Razi (Rhazes), Ibn Sina (Avicenna), and Abu Ali al-Hasan (Alhazen) were the greatest medical scholars of mediaeval times.
Abū Bakr Muhammad ibn Zakarīya al-Rāzi is known in the West as Rhazes. According to al-Biruni, a great Muslim scientist, he was born in Rayy, Iran in the year 865 AD (251 AH), and died there in 925 AD (313 AH)
Al-Razi was a versatile Persian physician, philosopher, and scholar who made fundamental and enduring contributions to the fields of medicine, alchemy, and philosophy, recorded in over 184 books and articles in various fields of science. He was well versed in Greek medical knowledge and added substantially to it from his own observations. He was unquestionably one of the greatest thinkers of the Islamic World, and had an enormous influence on European science and medicine.
He was the inventor of "Seton". 'Seton' is the thread or similar object inserted beneath the skin to provide drainage or to guide subsequent passage of a tube, in surgery. Further more he was the author of 'Al-Judari wal Hasbak', authentic book dealing with measles and small pox, describing how to distinguish then from each other. Seen as one of the greatest physicians in the world in the Middle Ages, Al-Razi stressed empirical observation and clinical medicine and was unrivalled as a diagnostician. He also wrote works on hygiene in hospitals.
The 10th century surgeon al-Zahrawi was the first to develop sophisticated surgical tools for operations. He also made plaster to help broken bones heal. Al-Zahrawi developed pioneering operative techniques, including the ceasarean section.
Avicenna wrote 'Al-Qanun Jil Tib known as Cannon', which was the most widely studied medical work of mediaevel times and was reprinted more than twenty times during the last 30 years of the 15th century in many different languages. The book remained a standard textbook even in Europe, for over 700 years.
The contagious character of the plague and its remedies were discovered by Ibn Katina, a Moorish Physician. Other significant contributions were made in pharmacology, such as Ibn Sina's 'Kitab al-Shifa' (Book of Healing), and in public health. Every major city in the Islamic world
had a number of excellent hospitals, some of them teaching hospitals, and many of them were specialized for particular diseases, including mental and emotional. The Ottomans were particularly noted for their building of hospitals and for the high level of hygiene practiced in them.
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#7 [Permalink] Posted on 11th November 2010 15:58
Development of chemistry
Besides medicine, astronomy and mathematics, chemistry is the fourth major science in which Muslims have made the greatest contribution. Until as recently as the 17th century, they were considered authorities in this science. Among the long list of great Muslim chemists we find two names, Jabir Ibn Hayyan and Zakariya Razi, reaching distinction. Writing in his illuminating History of the Arabs, the French historian and Arabist Philip K. Hitti acknowledges the greatness of Arabs in this branch of science when he says, "After materia medica, astronomy and mathematics, the Arabs made their greatest scientific contribution in chemistry. In the study of chemistry and other physical sciences, the Arabs introduced the objective experiment, a decided improvement over the hazy speculation of Greeks."
Jabir Ibn Hayyan (722 CE - 815 CE), is unanimously considered as the founder of chemistry. He identified many new acids, alkalines and salts. He devised and perfected chemical processes such as sublimation, crystallization, distillation, evaporation, and filtration. He initiated the classification of materials into spirits and metals. Ten centuries before John Dalton, Jabir Ibn Hayyan defined chemical combinations as a union of the elements together, in too small a particle for the naked eye to see, without loss of character.
Al-Kindi (801-873) from Kufah (Iraq) is another scholar who made a lasting impact on the development of chemistry. His book Kitab Kimiya' al-'Itr (Book of the Chemistry of Perfume and Distillations), signalled by H. Ritter in an Istanbul manuscript and edited in 1948 by Karl Garbers, contains more than 100 recipes for fragrant oils, salves, aromatic waters and substitutes or imitations of costly drugs. We will talk more about his work in the section on Perfumes.
Al-Razi (born in 850 CE) established the firm foundations of modern chemistry by setting up, for the first time, the laboratory in the modern sense, designing, describing and using more than twenty instruments, many parts are still in use today. Such as a crucible, decensory, cucurbit or retort for distillation, and the head of a still with a delivery tube (ambiq, Latin alembic), various types of furnace or stove. As an alchemist, Razi is credited with discovering Sulphuric acid, and the basic notions of modern chemistry and chemical engineering. He also discovered ethanol and its refinement and use in medicine. What's more, he classified substances into mineral, vegetable and animal.
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#8 [Permalink] Posted on 11th November 2010 16:06
KIOSKS
If you've ever been to a shopping centre or train station you've probably been to a kiosk. But the kiosk as a building type is not a new invention. As a building type it was first introduced by the Seljuqs (a Muslim dynasty of Oghuz Turkic descent that ruled parts of Central Asia and the Middle East from the 11th to 14th centuries) and
was a small building attached to the main mosque. It consisted of a domed hall with open arched sides, gradually evolved into a summer house used by Ottoman sultans, perhaps the most famous of these kiosks are the Cinili koshk (kiosk in Turkish) and Baghdad koshk. The first was built in 1473 by Mohammad al-Fatih at the Topkapi Palace, Istanbul, and consists of a two storey building topped with a dome and having open sides overlooking the gardens of the palace. The Baghdad Koshk was also built at the Topkapi Palace in 1638-39, by Sultan Murad IV. The building is again domed offering direct views onto the gardens and park of the Palace as well as the architecture of the city of Istanbul.
Sultan Ahemd III (1703-1730) also built a glass room of the Sofa kiosk at the Topkapi Palace incorporating some Western elements, such as the gilded brazier designed by the elder John Claude Duplessis which was given to the Ottoman Ambassador by King Louis 15th. The first English contact with Turkish Kiosk came through Lady Wortley Montagu (1689-1762), the wife of the English ambassador to Constantinople, who in a letter written in 1 April 1717 to Anne Thistlethwayte, mentions a kiosk describing it as raised by 9 or 10 steps and enclosed with gilded lattices" (Halsband, 1965 ed.).
Historic sources confirm the transfer of these kiosks to European monarchs. The king of Poland, and the father in law of Louis 15th, Stanilas of Lorraine built kiosks for himself based on his memories of his captivity in Turkey. These kiosks were used as garden pavilions serving coffee and beverages but later were converted into band stands and tourist information stands decorating most European gardens, parks and high streets.
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#9 [Permalink] Posted on 11th November 2010 16:07
Perfumes from the East
People have enjoyed perfume for centuries. The hard work of two talented chemists, Jabir ibn Hayyan (born 722) and al-Kindi (born 801) helped lay the foundations and established the perfume industry. Jabir developed many techniques, including distillation, evaporation and filtration, which enabled the collection of the odour of plants into a vapour that could be collected in the form of water or oil.
Al-Kindi was the real founder of the perfume industry as he carried out extensive research and experiments in combining various plants and other sources to produce a variety of scented products. He elaborated a vast number of recipes for a wide range of perfumes, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. His work in the laboratory is reported by a witness who said `I received the following description, or recipe, from Abu Yusuf Ya'qub b. Ishaq al-Kindi, and I saw him making it and giving it an addition in my presence.' The writer goes on in the same section to speak of the preparation of a perfume called ghaliya, which contained musk, amber and other ingredients which reveals a long list of technical names of drugs and apparatus.
Musk and floral perfumes were brought to Europe in the 11th and 12th centuries from Arabia, through trade with the Islamic world and with the returning Crusaders. Those who traded for these were most often also involved in trade for spices and dyestuffs. There are records of the Pepperers Guild of London which go back to 1179; their activities include trade in spices, perfume ingredients and dyes.
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#10 [Permalink] Posted on 11th November 2010 16:09
The World's First Soft Drink
Sherbet, a juice of crushed fruit, herbs, or flowers has long existed as one of the most popular beverages from and of the Muslim world, winning over Western figures such as Lord Byron. Muslims developed a variety of juices to make their Sharab (arabic for drink), an Arabic word from which the Italian sorbetto, French sorbet and English sherbet were derived. Today, this juice is known by a multitude of names, is associated with numerous cultural traditions, and is produced by countries ranging from India to the United States of America. The medieval Muslim sources also contain a lot of recipes for drink syrups that can be kept outside the refrigerator for weeks or months.
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#11 [Permalink] Posted on 11th November 2010 16:22
Sight savers
Did you know the first operation to remove cataracts was carried out as early as the 10th century in Iraq. Muslims also established the first apothecary shops and dispensaries, founded the first medieval school of pharmacy, and wrote great treatises on pharmacology.
Muslim inherited two explanations of vision. Ptolemy and Euclid both believed that vision was produced by the emission of light from the eyes, but their theory did not provide a reasonable explanation of perspective, the effect whereby the apparent size of an object depends upon its distance from the observer. Aristotle, Gallen and their followers stood for the so called `intromission,' something entering the eyes representative of the object, but again did not provide proper empirical explanation.
Al-Kindi was the first to question Euclid's theory of emission and to put some alternative suggestions, for example, asserting that a visual cone is not formed of discrete rays as Euclid has stated, but appears as a volume of continuous radiations. Rays are three dimensional and form a continuous radiant cone, a critique which prepared the way for Ibn al-Haytham's distinction between light rays and the straight lines along which they are propagated. He also explained how the light rays come in a straight line. His two works on geometrical and physiological optics were used by the English Roger Bacon (1214-1292) and the German physicist Witelo.
The proper scientific explanation had to wait until the arrival of Ibn al-Haitham (965-1039 CE), known in the West as Al-Hazen, who once and for all explained how we see, through light reflecting off an object and entering the eye. He backed this up with many rigorous experiments, establishing the scientific foundations for modern optics, combining the `mathematical' approach of Euclid and Ptolemy with the `physical' principle favoured by the natural philosophers.
During his light and vision experiments, Ibn Al-Hayhtam discovered the camera obscura phenomenon. He went to explain that we see objects upright and not upside down, as the camera does, because of the connection of the optic nerve with the brain which analyses and defines the image.
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#12 [Permalink] Posted on 11th November 2010 16:31
First bold attempt at flight
Did you know that the first really scientific attempt to fly in the Muslim World was made in the 9th century? Abul Qasim Ibn Firnas, who lived in the Spanish city of Cordoba, built a glider which was capable of carrying a human being.
Since antiquity, flying has always been a human dream as early civilisations could only watch and admire the gracefulness of flying birds. In 852 C.E., Abbas Ibn Firnas, or Armen Firman in Latin, a Moor(a Muslim of the mixed Berber and Arab people inhabiting N Africa) from Cordoba, constructed a wing-like cloak that he could glide on. He survived an attempt jumping from a tower in Cordoba with only minor injuries as his wing-like garments caught enough air to break his fall. This fall came to be known as the parachute fall. After watching birds, he realized that he had not added a tail to his glider.
Another Muslim, Hezarfen Ahmet Celebi (1609-1640) flew successfully from one side of the Bosphorus in Istanbul to the other during the reign of the Turkish Sultan Murad IV, in 1633.
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#13 [Permalink] Posted on 11th November 2010 16:31
The first windmill
Did you know that the first windmill was constructed as early as 7th century? One thing the vast deserts of Arabia had was wind, when the seasonal streams ran dry, and these desert winds had a constant wind direction. For about one hundred and twenty days the wind blew regularly from the same place.
The windmill was so simple yet effective that it quickly spread all over the world from its 7th century Persian origins. After this, wind-power became widely used to run mill stones for grinding corn, and also to draw up water for irrigation. This was first in the Persian province of Sistan, and al-Mas`udi, an Arab geographer who lived in the 10th century, described the region as a country of wind and sand. He also wrote, a characteristic of the area is that the power of the wind is used to drive pumps for watering gardens. Most historians believe that it was the crusaders who introduced windmills to Europe in the 12th century.
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#14 [Permalink] Posted on 11th November 2010 16:32
From bucket to bike
Did you know that Muslim engineer Al-Jazari came up with an ingenious device for lifting huge buckets of water without lifting a finger? It was grandly called the crank-
connecting rod system. This was his most important contribution to engineering, and had a huge impact on the development of technology. This simple device started a revolution in engineering that has found it highest form of expression in the bicycle.
In his fourth water raising machine, Al-Jazari produced the first demonstration of useful work by the crank. The machine uses a slider crank mechanism to provide the repetitive motion of the flume ladle. The crank is considered as one of the most important mechanical discoveries made, since it permits the transmission of rotary motion to linear motion. This is central to much of the machinery in the modern world, not least the internal combustion engine. His manuscript shows he also invented or refined the use of valves and pistons, devised some of the first mechanical clocks driven by water and weights, and was the father of robotics. The book contained a staggering number of 50 other inventions including the combination lock.
Sarton commented on this work, "This treatise is the most elaborate of its kind and may be considered the climax of this line of Muslim achievement". The book is rich in minute description of various kinds of devices.
The late Donald Hill, who translated the manuscript, maintains "It is impossible to over-emphasize the importance of Al-Jazari`s work in the history of engineering. Until modern times there is no other document from any cultural area that provides a comparable wealth of instructions for the design, manufacture and assembly of machines". He adds further: Al-Jazari did not only assimilate the techniques of his non-Arab and Arab predecessors, he was also creative. He added several mechanical and hydraulic devices. The impact of these inventions can be seen in the later designing of steam engines and internal combustion engines, paving the way for automatic control and other modern machinery. The impact of Al-Jazari`s inventions is still felt in modern contemporary mechanical engineering.They were the predecessors of today's mechanical engineers.
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#15 [Permalink] Posted on 11th November 2010 16:33
Modelling the Stars
From the beginnings of human awakening people have pondered at the amazing canopy of stars and at the movement of everything in the sky. Clearly there was order in the heavens. Many attempts were made to identify the patterns in this order. This had great significance to life, since through these observations and derivations of rules we have the beginnings of predictive science. We can predict the position of the Sun in the sky, the Moon, the timing of eclipses, the changing position of the planets and the stars. In an attempt to make these predictions easier, people from many great Civilisations have built different kinds of models reflecting in a physical form what they have seen. These models were built based on the perspective of the earth with a sphere of stars surrounding the earth. There were several kinds of models:
1. Celestial Globes 2. Astrolabes 3. Armillary Spheres
Muslim Astronomers took much from Greek astronomical calculations and models and improved on them in several ways making the measurements and predictions more and more accurate.
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