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Friday, November 9, 2007

How Much The World Owed To Muslim Scientists?

Abbas Ibn Firnas (810 - 887): He is an aviator, chemist, inventor, musician & physician. he design a water clock& invent glass from sand to produce quartz.In 875, at an age of 65 years, Ibn Firnas made the first attempt at controlled flight when he invented a hang glider with artifical wings, and launched himself from the Mount of the Bride (Jabal al-'arus) in the Rusafa Area, near Córdoba. The flight was largely successful, and was widely observed by a crowd that he had invited. After Ibn Firnas jumped from the top of a wall at least "several times the height of a man," he had successfully manipulated the flight controls, made up of two sets of wings, in order to raise his altitute higher than the point from which he had taken off. After gliding for several hundred feet, Ibn Firnas changed his direction and turned back to successfully return to the wall he had jumped from, though his landing was unsuccessful.

"Ibn Firnas was the first man in history to make a scientific attempt at flying."
Philip Khuri Hitti, History of the Arabs.

As Westerners teach their children about Sir George Cayley, Lilienthal, Santos-Dumont and the Wright Brothers, the Islamic countries tell theirs about Ibn Firnas, a thousand years before the Wrights.The westerners also told us that around 1284 in Italy, Salvino D'Armate is the one who invent the first eye glasses. But actually, it was Abbas Ibn Firnas who invent corrective glasses in the 9th century. He had devised a way to finish sand into glass; which until this time, was secret to the Egyptians. These glasses could be shaped and polished into round rocks used for viewing - known as reading stones.

Who created the first humanoid robot? Was it Leonardo Da Vinci who design a robot that looks like an armored knight, known as Leonardo's robot? No! He only design it on paper and get all the credit in Western world. they then make the model from his drawings and put it in muzium. The first person who design and then built the first humanoid robot was Ibn Ismail Ibn al-Razzaz Al-Jazari who created the first recorded designs of a programmable humanoid robot 300 years before Leornado da Vinci. Al-Jazari's robot was originally a boat with four automatic figures. His mechanism had a programmable drum machine with pegs (cams) that bump into little levers that operated the percussion. The drummer could be made to play different rhythms and different drum patterns if the pegs were moved around musicians that floated on a lake to entertain guests at royal drinking parties. Not only that, he also the world's first inventor of mechanical clock. After that, he invented the first clock which incorporated a closed-loop system, where the clock worked as long as it was loaded with metal ballswith which to strike a gong. He also the inventor of so many inventions that is widely use today. These included the crank mechanism, connecting rod, programmable automaton, reciprocating piston engine, suction pipe, suction pump, double-action pump, valve, combination lock, cam, camshaft, segmental gear, the first mechanical clocks driven by water and weights, and especially the crankshaft, which is considered the most important mechanical invention in history after the wheel.

Who found the Milky Way? Was it Galileo? No, it was Abu Rayhan al-Biruni, 500 years before Galileo. Who was the first to conduct elaborate experiments related to astronomical phenomena. He discovered the Milky Way galaxy to be a collection of numerous nebulous stars. In Khorasan, he observed and described the solar eclipse on April 8, 1019, and the lunar eclipse on September 17, 1019, in detail, and gave the exact latitudes of the stars during the lunar eclipse. He also analysed the acceleration of the planets, and first states that the motions of the solar apoge and the precession are not identical. Biruni also discovered that the distance between the Earth and the Sun is larger than Ptolemy's estimate, on the basis that Ptolemy disregarded the annual solar eclipses.
Where did Isac Newton get the Law of Motion? 700 years before him, Al-Biruni was the first to apply experimental scientific method to mechanics, especially the fields of statistics and dynamics, particularly for determining specific weights, such as those based on the theory of balances and weighing. In the dynamics and kinematics fields of mechanics, Biruni was the first to realize that acceleration is connected with non-uniform motion, which is part of Newton Second Law of Motion. Not only that, in Optics , Biruni was one of the first, along with Ibn al-Haytham, to discover that the speed of light was finite. Biruni was also the first to discover that the speed of light is much faster than the speed of sound.

George Sarton, , the father of the history of science, described Biruni as:

"One of the very greatest scientists of Islam, and, all considered, one of the greatest of all times."

A. I. Sabra desribed Biruni as:

"One of the great scientific minds in all history."

And what does this great scientist said about the Quran and science?
"[the Qur'an] does not interfere in the business of science nor does it infringe on the realm of science." (Al-Biruni)

Who invented camera? Can't guess! It was Ibn al-Haytham (965-1039), the Father Of Optics. he has not only the first person who built camera, but also studied binocular vision and the moon illusion, speculated on the finite speed, rectilinear propagation and electromagnetic aspects of light, and argued that rays of light are streams of energy particles travelling in straight lines. Due to his quantitative, empiricaland experimental approach to physics and science, he is considered the pioneer of the modern scientific method and of experimental physics, and some have described him as the "first scientist" for this reason. He is also considered by some to be the founder of psychophysics and his experimental approach of psycology of visual perception, and a pioneer of the philosophical field of phenomenology.
He also discovered Fermat's principle of least time and the law of inertia (known as Newton's first law of motion), discovered the concept of momentum(part of Newton's second law of motion), described the attraction between masses and was aware of the magnitude of acceleration due to gravity at a distance and in his optical research laid the foundations for the later development of telescopic astronomy, as well as for the microscope and the use of optical aids in Renaissance art.. His reformed empirical model was the first to reject the equant and eccentrics separate natural phylosophy from astronomy, free celestial kinematics from cosmology, and reduce physical entities to geometrical entities. The model also propounded the earth's rotation about its axis, and the centres of motion were geometrical points without any physical significance. His model comes centuries earlier than the famous Johannes Kepler's model.

Ibn al-Haytham described his search for truth and knowledge as a way of leading him closer to God:

"I constantly sought knowledge and truth, and it became my belief that for gaining access to the effulgence and closeness to God, there is no better way than that of searching for truth and knowledge."

I suggest readers get a book Al-Haytham-The First Scientist written by Bradley Steffens an award-winning poet, playwright, and author of nonfiction books for children and young adults. Get the book at his website

And how about Ibnu Sina or Avicenna (980-1037), the Father of All Doctors? About 100 treatises were ascribed to Ibn Sina. Some of them are tracts of a few pages, others are works extending through several volumes. The best-known amongst them, and that to which Ibn Sina owed his European reputation, is his 14-volume The Canon of Medicine, which was a standard medical text in Europe and the Islamic world up until the 18th century. The book is known for its introduction of systematic experimentation and quantification into the study of physiology, the discovery of contagious diseases, the introduction of quarantine to limit the spread of infectious diseases, the introduction of experimental medicines and clinical trials and the first descriptions on bacteria and viral organisms. It classifies and describes diseases, and outlines their assumed causes. Even the term Medi-cenna or Ibnu Sina's healings is being used in English language as Medicine until today and many people don't realize it.
The Arabic text of the Qanun was translated into Latin as Canon medicinae by Gerard of cremona in the 12th century and into Hebrew in 1279. Henceforth the Canon served as the chief guide to medical science in the West and is said to have influenced Leonardo Da Vinci. Its content, its systematic arrangement and philosophical plan soon worked its way into a position of pre-eminence in the medical literature of Europe, displacing the works of Galen and becoming the text book for medical encyclopeadic education in the schools of Europe. The text was read in the medical schools at Montpeller and Leuven as late as 1650, and Arnold C. Klebs described it as "one of the most significant intellectual phenomena of all times." In the words of Dr. William Osler, the Qanun has remained "a medical bible for a longer time than any other work".


Bradley said...

I am glad to see you are bringing attention to Ibn al-Haytham’s contributions. I am the author of book Ibn al-Haytham: First Scientist, the world's first biography of the eleventh-century Muslim scholar known in the West as Alhazen or Alhacen. As you point out, he not only contributed to the field of optics, but he also was the first person to insist on systematically testing hypotheses with experiments, earning himself a place in history as the first scientist. I hope you will add my website to your "Must See Websites For Those Who Search The Truth."

Shahrul Fitri said...

Thanks Bradley. I'm sorry for late reply of your comment. I'm also very pleased to hear someone really appreciate the contribution of Muslim's Scientists. I'll link your site in my blog. I hope we can exchange link as well.

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