Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Muslim Inventions That Shaped The Modern World

In 9th century Spain, Muslim inventor Abbas ibn Firnas designed a flying machine -- hundreds of years before da Vinci drew plans of his own.

1. Surgery
Around the year 1,000, the celebrated doctor Al Zahrawi published a 1,500 page illustrated encyclopedia of surgery that was used in Europe as a medical reference for the next 500 years. Among his many inventions, Zahrawi discovered the use of dissolving cat gut to stitch wounds -- beforehand a second surgery had to be performed to remove sutures. He also reportedly performed the first caesarean operation and created the first pair of forceps.
2. Coffee
Now the Western world's drink du jour, coffee was first brewed in Yemen around the 9th century. In its earliest days, coffee helped Sufis stay up during late nights of devotion. Later brought to Cairo by a group of students, the coffee buzz soon caught on around the empire. By the 13th century it reached Turkey, but not until the 16th century did the beans start boiling in Europe, brought to Italy by a Venetian trader.
3. Flying Machine
"Abbas ibn Firnas was the first person to make a real attempt to construct a flying machine and fly," said Hassani. In the 9th century he designed a winged apparatus, roughly resembling a bird costume. In his most famous trial near Cordoba in Spain, Firnas flew upward for a few moments, before falling to the ground and partially breaking his back. His designs would undoubtedly have been an inspiration for famed Italian artist and inventor Leonardo da Vinci's hundreds of years later, said Hassani.
4. University
In 859 a young princess named Fatima al-Firhi founded the first degree-granting university in Fez, Morocco. Her sister Miriam founded an adjacent mosque and together the complex became the al-Qarawiyyin Mosque and University. Still operating almost 1,200 years later, Hassani says he hopes the center will remind people that learning is at the core of the Islamic tradition and that the story of the al-Firhi sisters will inspire young Muslim women around the world today.
5. Algebra
The word algebra comes from the title of a Persian mathematician's famous 9th century treatise "Kitab al-Jabr Wa l-Mugabala" which translates roughly as "The Book of Reasoning and Balancing." Built on the roots of Greek and Hindu systems, the new algebraic order was a unifying system for rational numbers, irrational numbers and geometrical magnitudes. The same mathematician, Al-Khwarizmi, was also the first to introduce the concept of raising a number to a power.
6. Optics
"Many of the most important advances in the study of optics come from the Muslim world," says Hassani. Around the year 1000 Ibn al-Haitham proved that humans see objects by light reflecting off of them and entering the eye, dismissing Euclid and Ptolemy's theories that light was emitted from the eye itself. This great Muslim physicist also discovered the camera obscura phenomenon, which explains how the eye sees images upright due to the connection between the optic nerve and the brain.
7. Music
Muslim musicians have had a profound impact on Europe, dating back to Charlemagne tried to compete with the music of Baghdad and Cordoba, according to Hassani. Among many instruments that arrived in Europe through the Middle East are the lute and the rahab, an ancestor of the violin. Modern musical scales are also said to derive from the Arabic alphabet.
8. Toothbrush
According to Hassani, the Prophet Mohammed popularized the use of the first toothbrush in around 600. Using a twig from the Meswak tree, he cleaned his teeth and freshened his breath. Substances similar to Meswak are used in modern toothpaste.
9. The Crank
Many of the basics of modern automatics were first put to use in the Muslim world, including the revolutionary crank-connecting rod system. By converting rotary motion to linear motion, the crank enables the lifting of heavy objects with relative ease. This technology, discovered by Al-Jazari in the 12th century, exploded across the globe, leading to everything from the bicycle to the internal combustion engine.
10. Hospitals
"Hospitals as we know them today, with wards and teaching centers, come from 9th century Egypt," explained Hassani. The first such medical center was the Ahmad ibn Tulun Hospital, founded in 872 in Cairo. Tulun hospital provided free care for anyone who needed it -- a policy based on the Muslim tradition of caring for all who are sick. From Cairo, such hospitals spread around the Muslim world.
1. The Numeral System
Many Westerners, Germans in particular, are proud of their feats of technology and engineering. But where would engineers be without numbers? The numeral system of 1 to 9 which we use today dates back to the “House of Wisdom” in Baghdad. It is thought that our numeral system was invented there in the ninth century AD.
The numerals became known to Europe in the twelfth century, when British Arabist Robert of Chester translated the writings of Arab scholar Al-Khwarizmi. Al-Khwarizmi, for whom algorithms are named, is known as the developer of modern algebra -- yet another invention from the Muslim world.
2. The Guitar
The guitar, as we know it today, has its origins in the Arabic oud – a lute with a bent neck. During the Middle Ages, it found its way to Muslim Spain, where it was referred to as “qitara” in the Arabic of Andalusia.
It is said that a music teacher brought one to the court of the Umayyad ruler Abdel Rahman II in the ninth century. The modern guitar developed as a result of many influences, but the Arabic lute was its most important predecessor.
3. Magnifying Glass/Glasses
Not only did the Arab world revolutionize mathematics – it also revolutionized optics. The scholar Alhazen (Abu al-Hasan) from Basra was the first person to describe how the eye works.
He carried out experiments with reflective materials and proved that the eye does not sense the environment with “sight rays,” as scientists had believed up until then. He also discovered that curved glass surfaces can be used for magnification.
His glass “reading stones” were the first magnifying glasses. It was from these that glasses were later developed. Furthermore, Alhazen wrote important scholarly texts on astronomy and meteorology.
  • Bridge Mill: The bridge mill was a unique type of watermill that was built as part of the superstructure of a bridge. The earliest record of a bridge mill is from Córdoba, Spain in the 12th century.
  • Vertical-Axle windmill: A small wind wheel operating an organ is described as early as the 1st century AD by Hero of Alexandria. The first vertical-axle windmills were eventually built in SistanPersia as described by Muslim geographers. These windmills had long verticaldriveshafts with rectangle shaped blades. They may have been constructed as early as the time of the second Rashidun caliph Umar (634-644 AD), though some argue that this account may have been a 10th-century amendment. Made of six to twelve sails covered in reed matting or cloth material, these windmills were used to grind corn and draw up water, and used in the gristmilling and sugarcane industries. Horizontal axle windmills of the type generally used today, however, were developed in Northwestern Europe in the 1180s.
Mercuric chloride (formerly corrosive sublimate): used to disinfect wounds

Early Torpedoes: Syrian Al-Hassan er-Rammah's manuscript "The Book of Fighting on Horseback and With War Engines"(1280) includes the first known design for a rocket driven torpedo.
Lute: while pre-Islamic Arabs had similar instruments, the Lute is thought to have been invented in the 11th century, and spread from Iraq to other areas under Muslim provinces

  • Albarello: An albarello is a type of maiolica earthenware jar originally designed to hold apothecaries' ointments and dry drugs. The development of this type of pharmacy jar had its roots in the Islamic Middle East.

  • Fritware: It refers to a type of pottery which was first developed in the Near East, where production is dated to the late 1st millennium AD through the second millennium AD Frit was a significant ingredient. A recipe for "fritware" dating to c. 1300 AD written by Abu’l Qasim reports that the ratio of quartz to "frit-glass" to white clay is 10:1:1. This type of pottery has also been referred to as "stonepaste" and "faience" among other names. A 9th-century corpus of "proto-stonepaste" from Baghdad has "relict glass fragments" in its fabric.

  • Hispano-Moresque ware: This was a style of Islamic pottery created in Islamic Spain, after the Moors had introduced two ceramic techniques to Europe: glazingwith an opaque white tin-glaze, and painting in metallic lusters. Hispano-Moresque ware was distinguished from the pottery of Christendom by the Islamic character of its decoration.

  • Iznik pottery: Produced in Ottoman Turkey as early as the 15th century AD It consists of a body, slip, and glaze, where the body and glaze are "quartz-frit."The "frits" in both cases "are unusual in that they contain lead oxide as well assoda"; the lead oxide would help reduce the thermal expansion coefficient of the ceramic. Microscopic analysis reveals that the material that has been labeled "frit" is "interstitial glass" which serves to connect the quartz particles.

  • Lusterware: Lustre glazes were applied to pottery in Mesopotamia in the 9th century; the technique soon became popular in Persia and Syria. Earlier uses of lustre are known.

  • Tin-glazing: The tin-glazing of ceramics was invented by Muslim potters in 8th-century Basra, Iraq. The first examples of this technique can be found as blue-painted ware in 8th-century Basra. The oldest fragments found to-date were excavated from the palace of Samarra about fifty miles north of Baghdad.

  • Cryptanalysis and frequency analysis: In cryptology, the first known recorded explanation of cryptanalysis was given by 9th-century Arabian polymathAl-Kindi(also known as "Alkindus" in Europe), in A Manuscript on Deciphering Cryptographic Messages. This treatise includes the first description of the method of frequency analysis.

  • Source: Wikipedia

    Cutting edge! Countless surgical instruments in a modern medical theater were brought to us by Al Zahrawi (Father of Modern Surgery). Thanks to his monkey nibbling on his lute string, the Muslim doc discovered that catgut used for internal stitches would dissolve naturally and could also make medicine capsules.
    Surgical tools

    Renowned for stunning calligraphy, it should come as no surprise that the fountain pen was developed in in the Arab world. The demanding Sultan of Egypt Al-Mu'izz li-Din Allah insisted that his minions create a pen that wouldn’t cause ink stains. And the fountain pen was born, making your handwriting look more beautiful since 953 AD.
    Fountain pen

    Ahh pay day - well known instigators of reckless spending, we have the ancient Arabs to thank for our monthly cheques. The first recorded instance of a written pledge for goods instead of cash comes from the Arabic saqq. Although somewhat obsolete in the world of PIN codes, their legacy will remain.

    Since cleanliness is a central part of the Quran, it should come as no surprise that soap originates from the region. Keeping greasy hair and smelly pits at bay for centuries, Muslim brainboxes as early as 2800 B.C. were working up a lather in Babylon. Perhaps the most useful invention of all time, wouldn't you say?
    Soap Middle East

    With scorching temperatures and a plethora of desert creepy crawlies, it’s no wonder that the Arabs devised the first vaccinations. Muslim Indians brewed a successful vaccination for smallpox as early as 1000 BC but it wasn’t until the wife of the British ambassador in Turkey began exporting it to Europe in 1724 that it went viral.
    smallpox vaccine india

    Although the Chinese are credited with inventing saltpetre gunpowder, the Arabs figured out that the saltpetre gunpowder can be purified using potassium nitrate. In the 15th century, Arabs invented a rocket which they called a “self-moving and combustion egg”, and they called the torpedo a “self-propelled pear-shaped bomb”.
    rockets middle east

    Islamic architecture is known to be the first style of architecture to adopt pointed arches. Europe’s gothic architecture later borrowed this characteristics for their cathedrals. The Middle East itself has moved out of its gothic teenage phase and, as shown by the Gulf, is now into opulent buildings like the Burj Al Khalifa in Dubai.

    As the world goes camera crazy and snaps up selfies, let’s remember who we should thank for Kodak moments! Ibn al-Haytham, the “father of optics,” was the first person to realise that light enters through the eye and with this knowledge, he crafted the first pinhole camera. The world has been anything but camera-shy since.
    camera invention

    Source: Al-Bawaba

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