Sunday, January 04, 2009

The 'First True Scientist'

This is a fascinating brief overview of the work and accomplishment of al-Hassan Ibn al-Haytham, which the physicist author has dubbed as the first true scientist.

Popular accounts of the history of science typically suggest that no major scientific advances took place in between the ancient Greeks and the European Renaissance.

But just because Western Europe languished in the Dark Ages, does not mean there was stagnation elsewhere. Indeed, the period between the 9th and 13th Centuries marked the Golden Age of Arabic science.

Great advances were made in mathematics, astronomy, medicine, physics, chemistry and philosophy. Among the many geniuses of that period Ibn al-Haytham stands taller than all the others.

Ibn al-Haytham is regarded as the father of the modern scientific method.

I think that most western civilization forgets that during the dark ages in Europe, a lot of significant progress in science and technology were being made in the Middle East and in the East. Muslim scholars during that time have certainly made significant contribution to the body of knowledge that later on was credited to other western scientists.

I hope the BBC series being made here will be shown here in the US eventually, or at least on YouTube. It will be fascinating to learn many other neglected aspect of this part of scientific history.


1 comment:

the_sparrow's_tail said...

thanks to this post i managed to catch the first episode of the series last night. quality program that fit in nicely with on of the BBC's other recent series 'The Story of Maths'. Both are great in their exposition of the topics. Professor Jim Al-Khalili presents a great story, and shows how much the West relies on the work of these scholars from Baghdad. Interestingly, he shows how the academic tradition of the era allowed for all ideas to be presented with equal weight and debated on merit alone. In that they would not dismiss a theory because it came from non-Muslim sources, or by scholars outside of Baghdad. Additionally, it presents how key a common language (Arabic in this case) was to the developments. Overall a fascinating show and i look forward to next weeks.