Monday, April 16, 2012

Muslim scholars science & tech 1300-1700

1300s - [astronomy, engineering] The spherical astrolabe is invented in the Middle East.

1300s - [bacteriology, etiology, medicine, microbiology, pathology] When the Black Death bubonic plague reached al-Andalus, Ibn Khatima discovered that infectious diseases are caused by microorganisms which enter the human body.

1301 - [ceramics] Al-Kashani promotes a center for ceramics. He also writes a book on Islamic ceramics techniques. His name is still associated with ceramics in the Muslim Orient today.

1304 - 1375 [astronomy] Ibn al-Shatir, a Muslim astronomer from Damascus, in A Final Inquiry Concerning the Rectification of Planetary Theory, incorporated the Urdi lemma and eliminated the need for an equant by introducing an extra epicycle (the Tusi-couple), departing from the Ptolemaic system in a way that was mathematically identical to what Nicolaus Copernicus did in the 16th century. Ibn al-Shatir's system was also only approximately geocentric, rather than exactly so, having demonstrated trigonometrically that the Earth was not the exact center of the universe. While previous Maragha models were just as accurate as the Ptolemaic model, Ibn al-Shatir's geometrical model was the first that was actually superior to the Ptolemaic model in terms of its better agreement with empirical observations. Ibn al-Shatir’s rectified model was later adapted into a heliocentric model by Copernicus, which was mathematically achieved by reversing the direction of the last vector connecting the Earth to the Sun in Ibn al-Shatir's model.

1304 - 1369 [exploration, travel] Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Battuta was a world traveler. He travels along a 75,000 mile voyage from Morocco to China and back. These journeys covered much of the Old World, extending from North Africa, West Africa, Southern Europe and Eastern Europe in the west, to the Middle East, Indian subcontinent, Central Asia, Southeast Asia and China in the east, a distance readily surpassing that of his predecessors and his near-contemporary Marco Polo.

Ibn-Battuta-and-Sultan Muhammad-Ibtaglib

1313 - 1374 - [bacteriology, etiology, medicine, pathology] The Andalusian physician Ibn al-Khatib wrote a treatise called On the Plague, in which he stated: "The existence of contagion is established by experience, investigation, the evidence of the senses and trustworthy reports. These facts constitute a sound argument. The fact of infection becomes clear to the investigator who notices how he who establishes contact with the aflicted gets the disease, whereas he who is not in contact remains safe, and how transmission is affected through garments, vessels and earrings."

1377 [demography, economics, historiography, history, humanities, political science, social sciences, sociology] Ibn Khaldun, the father of demography,cultural history, historiography, the philosophy of history,sociology, and the social sciences, and one of the forerunners of modern economics, writes his most famous work, the Muqaddimah (known as Prolegomenon in the West), which is encyclopedic in breadth, surveys the state of knowledge of his day, covering geography, accounts of the peoples of the world and their known history, the classification and aims of the sciences, and the religious sciences. In the social sciences, he introduces the concepts of social philosophy, social conflict theories, Asabiyyah (social cohesion), social capital, social networks, the Laffer curve, the historical method, standard of evidence, propoganda, systemic bias, the rise and fall of civilizations, dialectic and feedback loops, systems theory, corporate social responsibility, economic growth, macroeconomics, population growth, human capital development, and the Khaldun-Laffer curve.

1377 [biology, chemistry, evolution] Ibn Khaldun's Muqaddimah also makes several contributions to biology and chemistry. He develops a biological theory of evolution based on empirical evidence and in which he begins with minerals evolving into plants and then animals and ending with humans evolving from monkeys, which he states is "as far as our (physical) observation extends." In chemistry, he refutes the practice of alchemy and discredits the theory of the transmutation of metals.

1380 [mathematics] Born al-Kashi. According to , "contributed to the development of decimal fractions not only for approximating algebraic numbers, but also for real numbers such as pi. His contribution to decimal fractions is so major that for many years he was considered as their inventor. Although not the first to do so, al-Kashi gave an algorithm for calculating nth roots which is a special case of the methods given many centuries later by Ruffini and Horner." 

1393 - 1449 - [astronomy] Ulugh Beg commissions an observatory at Samarqand in present-day Uzbekistan. 

15th century
1400 - 1500 - [related] Third wave of devastation of Muslim resources, lives, properties, institutions, and infrastructure. End of Muslim rule in Spain after the completion of the Reconquista in 1492. More than one million volumes of Muslim works on science, arts, philosophy and culture were burnt in the public square of Vivarrambla in Granada. Colonization began in Africa, Asia, and the Americas.

1400s [mathematics] Ibn al-Banna and al-Qalasadi used symbols for mathematics in the 15th century "and, although we do not know exactly when their use began, we know that symbols were used at least a century before this." 

1400 - 1406 [astronomy, mathematics, physics] Jamshid al-Kashi is invited to the Samarqand observatory by Ulugh Beg to pursue his study of mathematics, astronomy and physics. 

1400 - 1429 [astronomy, mathematics] Jamshid al-Kashi is the first to use the decimal point notation in arithmetic and Arabic numerals. His works include The Key of arithmetics, Discoveries in mathematics, The Decimal point, and The benefits of the zero. The contents of the Benefits of the Zero are an introduction followed by five essays: "On whole number arithmetic", "On fractional arithmetic", "On astrology", "On areas", and "On finding the unknowns [unknown variables]". He also wrote the Thesis on the sine and the chord; The garden of gardens or Promenade of the gardens describing an instrument he devised and used at the Samarqand observatory to compile an ephemeris and for computing solar and lunar eclipses; the ephemeresis Zayj Al-Khaqani which also includes mathematical tables and corrections of the ephemeresis by al-Tusi; Thesis on finding the first degree sine; and more. 

1400 - 1474 [astronomy, astrophysics, mathematics, physics] Ali al-Qushji (d. 1474) rejected Aristotelian physics and completely separated natural philosophy from Islamic astronomy, allowing astronomy to become a purely empirical and mathematical science. This allowed him to explore alternatives to the Aristotelian notion of a stationery Earth, as he explored the idea of a moving Earth instead. He found empirical evidence for the Earth's rotation through his observation on comets and concluded, on the basis of empiricism rather than speculative philosophy, that the moving Earth theory is just as likely to be true as the stationary Earth theory. Ali al-Qushji also improved on Nasir al-Din al-Tusi's planetary model and presented an alternative planetary model for Mercury.
1406 - 1409 [astronomy] Jamshid al-Kashi computed and observed the solar eclipses of 809 AH, 810 AH and 811 AH. 

1411 [mathematics] Al-Kashi writes Compendium of the Science of Astronomy 

1424 [mathematics] Al-Kashi writes Treatise on the Circumference giving a remarkably accurate approximation to pi in both hexadecimal and decimal forms, computing pi to 8 hexadecimal places and 16 decimal places 

1427 [mathematics] Al-Kashi completes The Key to Arithmetic containing work of great depth on decimal fractions. It applies arithmetical and algebraic methods to the solution of various problems, including several geometric ones and is one of the best textbooks in the whole of medieval literature

1437 [mathematics] Ulugh Beg publishes his star catalogue, the Zij-i-Sultani. It contains trigonometric tables correct to eight decimal places based on Ulugh Beg's calculation of the sine of one degree which he calculated correctly to 16 decimal places . 

16th century
1500s [architecture, engineering, urban planning] The city of Shibam is built in Yemen. This city is regarded as the "oldest skyscraper-city in the world", the "Manhattan of the desert", and the earliest example of urban planning based on the principle of vertical construction. Shibam was made up of over 500 tower houses, each one rising 5 to 9 storeys high, with each floor being an apartment occupied by a single family.

1500 - 1528 [astronomy, astrophysics, physics] Al-Birjandi continued the debate on the Earth's rotation after Ali al-Qushji. In his analysis of what might occur if the Earth were rotating, he develops a hypothesis similar to Galileo Galilei's notion of "circular inertia", which he described in an observational test (as a response to one of Qutb al-Din al-Shirazi's arguments): "The small or large rock will fall to the Earth along the path of a line that is perpendicular to the plane (sath) of the horizon; this is witnessed by experience (tajriba). And this perpendicular is away from the tangent point of the Earth’s sphere and the plane of the perceived (hissi) horizon. This point moves with the motion of the Earth and thus there will be no difference in place of fall of the two rocks."

1500 - 1550 [astronomy] Shams al-Din al-Khafri, the last major astronomer of the hay'a tradition, was the first to realize that "all mathematical modeling had no physical truth by itself and was simply another language with which one could describe the physical observed reality."

1551 [engineering] Taqi al-Din invents the steam turbine in Ottoman Egypt. He first described it in The Sublime Methods of Spiritual Machines, which describes the use of his steam turbine as the prime mover for a self-rotating spit.

1559 [engineering] Taqi al-Din invents a 'Monobloc' pump with a six cylinder engine. It was a hydropowered water-raising machine incorporating valves, suction and delivery pipes, piston rods with lead weights, trip levers with pin joints, and cams on the axle of a water-driven scoop-wheel.

1577 [astronomy, engineering] Taqi al-Din builds the Istanbul observatory of al-Din, one of the largest astronomical observatories at the time, with the patronage of the Ottoman Sultan Murad III. 

1577 - 1580 [astronomy, engineering] At the Istanbul observatory of al-Din, Taqi al-Din carries out astronomical observations. He produces a zij (named Unbored Pearl) and astronomical catalogues that are more accurate than those of his contemporaries, Tycho Brahe and Nicolaus Copernicus. Taqi al-Din is able to achieve this with his new invention of the "observational clock", which he describes as "a mechanical clock with three dials which show the hours, the minutes, and the seconds." He uses this for astronomical purposes, specifically for measuring the right ascension of the stars. This is considered one of the most important innovations in 16th century practical astronomy, as previous clocks were not accurate enough to be used for astronomical purposes. Taqi al-Din is also the first astronomer to employ a decimal point notation in his observations rather than the sexagesimal fractions used by his contemporaries and predecessors.

1580 [astronomy] The Istanbul observatory of al-Din is destroyed by Sultan Murad III. 
17th century
1630 - 1632 - [aviation, flight] Turkish scientist Hezarfen Ahmet Celebi took off from Galata tower and flew over the Bosphorus. He was the first aviator to have succeeded in flying with artificial wings. 

1633 - [aviation, flight, rocketry] Hezarfen Ahmet Celebi's brother, Lagari Hasan Çelebi, launched himself in the first manned rocket, using 150 okka (about 300 pounds) of gunpowder as the firing fuel, and he landed successfully. This is more than two hundred years before similar attempts in modern Europe and the United States. 

1600s [mathematics] The Arabic mathematician Muhammad Baqir Yazdi jointly discovered the pair of amicable numbers 9,363,584 and 9,437,056 along with Descartes (1636).

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