Monday, March 13, 2006

muslim scientists

The science textbooks in Pakistan always start off with a chapter on science in Islam and the contribution of Muslim scientists to our understanding of the world and the universe. But like all government approved textbooks, the information is presented in such a droll and boring manner that you don't feel like reading the next paragraph.

The Independent has run a very interesting article on the contribution of Muslim to science. The article is supplements an exhibition, "1001 Inventions" about science in the ancient Muslim world in Manchester, UK.

"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." The image is of Al-Idrisi's world map from 1154. Note that south is at the top of the map

"In 875, aged 70, having perfected a machine of silk and eagles' feathers Abbas ibn Firnas tried again, jumping from a mountain. He flew to a significant height and stayed aloft for ten minutes". One of the craters on the moon is named after Abbas Ibn Firnas The image is from a US navy site of the Ibn Firnas Crater... yeah, I have no idea either what the Navy has to do with the moon


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