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- April 27th, 2010, 04:55 PM #1
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Scientific Achievements under Islam: Physics and Technology
Another really fascinating and informative article I want to share with all of you guys here. It really fascinated me as I was reading this article that Islam tells us soooo much to gain and spread knowledge, which is why Islamic scholars back in time were 1,000 years ahead of there time. WOW!!! I hope you enjoy it and find it informative as much as I did....#grin
A beautiful article by Prof. Dr. I N (UK):
The concept that the sciences are exclusively the products of Western minds remains unquestioned by most individuals. It is hardly necessary to repeat the oft-mentioned names: Galileo, Copernicus, Kepler, Bacon, Newton, Da Vinci, Benjamin Franklin, etc. The unavoidable conclusion is that major contributions to the development of the modern sciences by other cultures of the advancements made by ancient Indian, Chinese or, particularly, Muslim scholars. This article will tell how many basic inventions and scientific discoveries, which have been long credited to Western scholars, were in fact made many centuries before by Islamic scholars.
In the field of physics Isaac Newton?s 17th century study of lenses, light and prisms forms the foundation of the modern science of optics. For example, Newton is said to have discovered that white light consists of various rays of coloured light. However, centuries prior to Newton al-Haytham (11th century) and Kamal ad-Din (14th century), determined virtually everything that Newton advanced regarding optics. There is little doubt that he influenced Newton. Al-Haytham was the most quoted physicist of the Middle Ages and is regarded by numerous authorities as the ?founder of optics?. His works were utilized and quoted by a greater number of European scholars during the 16th and 17th centuries than those of Newton and Galileo combined. Newton did make original discoveries, but this was not one of them.
The concept of the finite nature of matter was first introduced by Antione Lavoisier during the 18th century. He discovered that, although matter may change its form or shape, its mass always remains the same. Thus, for instance, if water is heated to steam, if salt is dissolved in water or if a piece of wood is burned to ashes, the total mass remains unchanged. The principles of this discovery had already been elaborated centuries before by Islamic Persia?s great scholar, al-Biruni (d.1050). In fact, Lavoisier was a disciple of Muslim chemists and physicists and referred to their books frequently.
Glass mirrors were said to be first produced in 1291 in Venice. However, glass mirrors were in use in Islamic Spain as early as the 11th century. The Venetians learned of the art of fine glass production from Syrian artisans during the 9th and 10th centuries.
The English scholar Roger Bacon (d. 1292) first mentioned glass lenses for improving vision. However, Ibn Firnas of Islamic Spain invented eyeglasses during the 9th century, and they were manufactured and sold throughout Spain for over two centuries. Any mention of eyeglasses by Roger Bacon was simply a regurgitation of the work of al-Haytham (d. 1039).
Until the 14th century, the only type of clock available was the water clock. In 1353, a large mechanical clock was erected in Milan, Italy. This was possibly the first weight-driven clock. In the Islamic world a variety of mechanical clocks were produced by Spanish Muslim engineers, both large and small, and this knowledge was transmitted to Europe through Latin translations of Islamic books on mechanics. These clocks were weight-driven. Designs and illustrations of epi-cyclic and segmental gears were provided. One such clock included a mercury escapement. Europeans directly copied the latter type during the 15th century. In addition, during the 9th century, Ibn Firnas of Islamic Spain had invented a watch-like device that kept accurate astronomical clocks for use in their observatories.
Moveable type and the printing press were invented by the West by Johannes Gutenberg of Germany during the 15th century. In 1454, Gutenberg developed the most sophisticated printing press of the Middle Ages. However, moveable brass type had been in use in Islamic Spain 100 year?s prior, and that is where the West?s first printing devices were made.
The compass is said to have been invented by the Chinese who may have been the first to use it for navigational purposes sometimes between 1000 and 1100 A.D. The earliest reference to its use in navigation was by the Englishman, Alexander Neckam (1157 to 1217). Muslim geographers and navigators learned of the magnetic needle, possibly from the Chinese, and were in fact the first to use magnetic needles in navigation. They invented the compass and passed the knowledge of its use in navigation to the West. It is also noteworthy that the Chinese improved their navigational expertise after they began interacting with the Muslims during the 8th century.
The invention by Muslim scientists of the astrolabe has been described as ?the most important astronomical calculating device before the invention of digital computers and was the most important astronomical observational device before the invention of the telescope?. Its uses are varied, and not just in astronomy, but also in surveying and navigation. In astronomy, it was used to calculate the altitude and azimuth (an Arabic term) of the sun, the moon, stars and planets. It was also used to measure distances and heights.
Gunpowder is said to have been developed in the Western world as a result of Roger Bacon?s work in 1242. The first usage of gunpowder in weapons was when the Chinese fired it from bamboo shoots in attempt to frighten Mongol conquerors. They produced it by adding sulphur and charcoal to saltpetre. The Chinese developed saltpetre for use in fireworks and knew of no tactical military use for gunpowder, nor did they invent in formula. Research has clearly shown that gunpowder as formulated initially by Muslim chemists. The first mention of a cannon was in an Arabic text around 1300 A.D. Roger Bacon learned of the formula for gunpowder from Latin translation of Arabic books. He brought forth nothing original in this regard.
The first mention of man in flight was by Roger Bacon, who drew aflying apparatus. Leonardo da Vinci also conceived of airborne transport and drew several prototypes. However, In Firnas of Islamic Spain invented, constructed and tested a flying machine in the 800?s A.D. Roger Bacon learned of flying machines from Arabic references to Ibn Firnas? machine. The latter?s invention antedates Bacon by 500 years and Da Vinci by some 700 years.
Kerosene was first produced by an Englishman, Abraham Gesner, in 1853. He distilled it from asphalt. Muslim chemists produced kerosene as a distillate from petroleum products over 1,000 years prior to Gesner (see Encyclopedia Britannica under the heading, Petroleum)
In the field of engineering Al-Jazari was the most outstanding mechanical engineer of his time. His full name was Badi Al-Zaman AbdulI-Ezz Ibn Ismail Ibn Al-Razzaz Al-Jazari and he lived in Diyar-Bakir (in Turkey) during the 12th century AD. He was called Al-Jazari after the place of his birth, Al-Jazira, the area lying between the Tigris and the Euphrates in Iraq.
Like his father before him he served Urtuq kings of Diyar-Bakir, from 570 to 597 AH (1174 to 120 CE) as a Mechanical Engineer. In 1206 he completed an outstanding book on engineering entitled ?Al-Jami Bain Al-Ilm Wal-Amal Al-Nafi Fi Sinat?at Al-Hiyal? in Arabic. It was a compendium of theoretical and practical mechanisms. Historian Sarton writes (1884-1956):
?This treatise is the most elaborate of its kind and may be considered the climax of this line of Muslim achievement.? (Sarton vol.2; page 510)
Al-Jazari?s book is distinctive in its practical aspect because the author was a competent engineer and skilled craftsman. The book describes various devices in minute detail hence an invaluable contribution in the history of engineering. British charter engineer Donal Hill (1974) who has a special interest in Arab technology writes:
?It is impossible to over emphasize the importance of Al-Jazari?s work in the history of engineering; it provides a wealth of instructions for design, manufacture and assembly of machines.?
Al-Jazari describes fifty mechanical devices in six different categories, including water clocks, hand washing device (wudu machine) and machines for raising water etc. following the ?World of Islam Festival? held in the United Kingdom in 1976 a tribute was paid to Al-Jazari when the London Science Museum showed a successfully reconstructed working model of his famous ?Water Clock?.
Hill translated Al-Jazari?s work in 1974, seven centuries and 68 years after it was completed by its author. Al-Jazari?s book includes sic main categories of machines and devices (Al-Jazari Mechanical Devices, trans. by Donald Hill, First published in 1974). Several of the machines, mechanisms and techniques that first appear in this treatise, later entering the vocabulary of European mechanical engineering, including double acting pumps with suction pipes and the use of a crank shaft in a machine, accurate calibration of orifices, lamination of timber to reduce warping, static balancing of wheels, use of paper models to establish a design, casting of metals in closed mould boxes with green sand etc. Al-Jazari also describes methods of construction and assembly in scrupulous detail of the fifty or so machines in it to enable future craftsmen to reconstruct them.
And he was successful in that, for many of his devices were constructed following his instructions. The work by Al-Jazari is also unique in the way that other writers often fail to give sufficient details, because amongst others, they are not craftsmen themselves, or kept their secrets, or if they were craftsmen, they could have been illiterate. Al-Jazari in this respect was unique, and this gives his work immense value. His book, Hill states, is an absolute wealth of Islamic mechanical engineering.
In one of Hill?s concluding points he states that ?it is hoped that, as research proceeds, firmer evidence for the transmission of Islamic fine technology into Europe can be provided?. Hill also offers some hints for such transmission. The most likely route being Spain. Such fine technology could have followed the same route as the astrolabe (itself part of this fine technology). Apart from Spain, there was Sicily, another land of transfer, Byzantium, and Syria during the Crusades. And Hill is also right on a further account, that what will be seen in this work is just a fraction of the whole process, which, as with much else has hardly been explored.
In the field of hydraulic engineering and water managements, Muslim mastery of this technology was far more advanced than acknowledged by many historians. Untrue. In fact, Muslims engineers built many hundreds of huge dams, awter reservoirs and canals in a rich variety of structures and forms using techniques that reached great heights of ingenuity.
Some historians are keen to distort the exact role of Muslim engineering skills. The reality, however, is far the opposite, first and foremost, the hydraulic works of the Ancients were found by the Muslims in a terrible state of decay ad ruin, and they did not just repair them, but also added considerable skills of their own. To Spain, for instance, the Muslims brought irrigation techniques which not only laid the foundations for the prosperity of the country, but also with nothing as elaborate and as efficient seen before in Europe. Muslim engineers built many hundreds of huge dams, water reservoirs and canals in a rich variety of structures and forms using techniques that reached great heights of ingenuity.
April 27th, 2010, 05:04 PM #2
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I want to let all of you viewers know that Islam tells us soooooooooooooooo much to gain and spread knowledge, a fact that many people aren't really aware of and when I looked up more about the topic and also came across these articles and many others, I was literally like....WWWOOOOOOWWWWWWW!!!!!!!!!!!
The biggest friend of Islam is knowledge! Islam emphasizes soooo much to gain and spread knowledge to the extend that it tells us that "The ink of a scholar is more holier than the blood of a martyr" and also that "Seek knowledge from cradle to your grave." (A saying by Prophet Muhammad pbuh Himself). Which is why Muslim scholars were 1,000 years ahead of there time. Just think of it...not 50, not a 100, not even 2 or 300..but infact 1,000 YEARS AHEAD OF THERE TIME!!! (I dont belive anyone nowadays or in the last 2-300 years was more cleverer than that). And it was all because of the fact that they seeked knowledge and spread it among others. This is how ideas reached the Western world...All thanks to our Muslim scholars.
There is soo much more to share with all of yous and i'll be back with more information Inshallah.
Peace out!May 8th, 2010, 06:48 PM #3
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- Apr 2010
- London, United Kingdom
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Please also view my threads with the titles
"Scientific Achievements under Islam: Ophthalmology"
"Scientific Achievements under Islam: Surgery"
I had put all these threads together but somehow they have been moved to different places on this forum. You can view them by clicking on the url's below:
Or you can search them up with the titles that I have mentioned earlier. Thanks #wink
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