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An interesting feature of al Idrisi s map, as with all medieval Arabic maps, is that it is drawn upside down, with the north at the bottom.I ve read a couple of other books on this subject, and in terms of thoroughness and synthesis, it s definitely the best one It seemed extensively and carefully researched It s arranged narratively, flowing through time from one time and place and person to another, making detours and links where appropriate, so it s the kind of book you d want to read cover An interesting feature of al Idrisi s map, as with all medieval Arabic maps, is that it is drawn upside down, with the north at the bottom.I ve read a couple of other books on this subject, and in terms of thoroughness and synthesis, it s definitely the best one It seemed extensively and carefully researched It s arranged narratively, flowing through time from one time and place and person to another, making detours and links where appropriate, so it s the kind of book you d want to read cover to cover rather than use as a quick reference I especially appreciated the attention given to mathematics and algebra all too easily we can take those awesome technologies for granted As well as the original work done during Golden Age of the title, Al Khalili investigates their sources the numerals we use first came from India, for example, while much of the influential medical, geometric, and philosophical material translated into Arabic during this time came from Greece and historical context, searching for explanations throughout.I found everything in the book interesting, but I was bothered by the near total absence of women a queen was mentioned in one sentence if a remember correctly, and Al Khalili says something about his mother having to dress a certain way to visit a certain place, and there are a number of citations of books apparently authored or co authored by people with seemingly feminine names Apparently there is no historical record whatsoever of women participating in the Golden Age of Arabic science, or we can assume hopefully that Al Khalili would have mentioned it But still, I found myself constantly wondering what women were doing If I had been writing this history, I could not have avoided exploring that question.Another thing that bothered me somewhat, was what seemed to me an excessive focus on which scientist, thinker or polymath is the greatest, when sometimes it seemed that contributions weren t really commensurable Talking up the importance of all these guys didn t really need so much comparing I started to feel I could have made a pack of top trumps out of the cast of characters.Al Khalili defines his subject by language rather than by religion, because many of the participants in the Golden Age were not Muslims This is also a compromise, and is somewhat disrupted by the last chapter on Science and Islam Today Although not a Muslim himself, he draws on personal experience where Muslim culture colours the story, which I think is a very good thing But Al Khalili seemed to me to be writing not only for non Arabic speakers, but for non Muslim ones too, and his perspective seemed an outsider one, even an othering one at times Maybe that s necessary, or better than the alternative trying to step out of your own perspective but it went along with a hint of New Atheist dogmatism to make me feel that, well another book was possible Excellent book filling in the gap of Western Civ history Answering how we left the Dark Ages and entered the Renaissance with shared knowledge, not our own invention A strong case for world peace, understanding and tolerance.While chemistry, algebra, medicine and so muchare written about, my favorite quote is I shall mention in passing just one example of a gift from the Arabs that I for one am rather grateful coffee especially as it was originally banned in Europe as a Muslim drin Excellent book filling in the gap of Western Civ history Answering how we left the Dark Ages and entered the Renaissance with shared knowledge, not our own invention A strong case for world peace, understanding and tolerance.While chemistry, algebra, medicine and so muchare written about, my favorite quote is I shall mention in passing just one example of a gift from the Arabs that I for one am rather grateful coffee especially as it was originally banned in Europe as a Muslim drink I read this book as part of an excellent program at our local Indian Valley Public Library called Muslim Journeys Thank you Deb A well written, insightfull and smart read.Jim Al Khalili is obviusly proud of his roots And i like that.Without being to missionary about it, he makes a good point in the fact that the Mideastern knowledge that started in Mesopotamian times and evolved all the way through our dark ages until the renaissance, was very influential on the occidents development of not only medicine, or architecture but also poetry, astronomie and art.The questions of how and why the Islamic knowledge is suddenly r A well written, insightfull and smart read.Jim Al Khalili is obviusly proud of his roots And i like that.Without being to missionary about it, he makes a good point in the fact that the Mideastern knowledge that started in Mesopotamian times and evolved all the way through our dark ages until the renaissance, was very influential on the occidents development of not only medicine, or architecture but also poetry, astronomie and art.The questions of how and why the Islamic knowledge is suddenly regarded as threat from some circles, even within its own culture, is worth being elaborated in an book on itself.I can highly recommend this book to everyone who wants to open his horizon a bit, in regard of where our cultural background was forged and how humanity evolved By sharing its science and exchanging thoughts Arabic was then what Latin became later to the literate elite Scientists were Christians, Jews and Persians And as John Noble Wilford said in his as usual brilliant review The Muslim Art of Science in the NYT Jim Al Khalili also reminds readers that in early Islam there was no bitter conflict between religion and science and that the Koran encouraged the close study of all God s works.John Noble Wilford s much better than mine review can be followed here The House of Wisdom is a thorough history of science in the Arabic countries up to the fifteenth century.Besides including biographies of early Arabic scientists, British Iraqi physicist and author Jim al Khalili shows how individual Arabic geniuses and polymaths eagerly sought Ancient Greek texts on science, encouraged by the leaders of Middle Eastern empires to do so Libraries and universities were built, experimentation was funded, brilliant students were encouraged, and ideas were freely The House of Wisdom is a thorough history of science in the Arabic countries up to the fifteenth century.Besides including biographies of early Arabic scientists, British Iraqi physicist and author Jim al Khalili shows how individual Arabic geniuses and polymaths eagerly sought Ancient Greek texts on science, encouraged by the leaders of Middle Eastern empires to do so Libraries and universities were built, experimentation was funded, brilliant students were encouraged, and ideas were freely discussed While Europe was in the dark ages, culture, technological advancement and education flourished in the Middle East However, it all stopped in the fifteenth century Islam no longer could tolerate the ideas of science which clearly were contradicting the religious ideas in the Qur an Luckily, through the Arabic conquest of Spain in the twelfth century, Europe finally got their hands on translated Ancient Greek and Arabic books written by brilliant Near East and Indian scientists, astronomers and mathematicians shortly before Islamist religious fundamentalists began to destroy and burn their superb educated legacy of centuries Without question, the Western World would not exist as it does without the discoveries of these brilliant Arabic men who were nurtured by literate Middle Eastern empires and early Greek science Then religious Islamic fundamentalism shut down any education, philosophies and scientific studies which conflict with the Qur an The continuing disputes of hardliner fundamentalists and Islamic dictators over which religious Islamic sects and tribes should be allowed to live or die because they each consider their Islamic neighbors differing local flavors of understanding the Qur an as heresy punishable with death continues to occupy hardline theocratic Islamic and Arabic countries to this day Sad The House of Wisdom is a history of Arabic science written by a scientist, and so it has intense sections about math since Arabic, Persian and Indian scientists and mathematicians invented entire new maths OK, so, five of the chapters were way above my pay grade There are huge academic sections in the back of the book notes, a glossary of hundreds of famous Arabic scientists, and an index Before maintaining stories in the Qur an becameimportant than encouraging brilliant educated scientists, it is clear thousands of Near East scientists studied astronomy, medicine, chemistry, biology, the natural sciences, material sciences and architecture, which created a formerly vibrant society in the Middle East The world owes these Arabic, Indian and Persian men much Jim Al Khalili is a physicist whose family has deep roots in one of the culturally leading families of Iraq His mother and first name are British and he was born and raised in Britain making him ideal to mediate between Islamic and European cultures in describing the wonders of this House The founding of the House of Wisdom by Al Mamun in the 800s A.D C.E was necessitated by dream in which the instructions came right from Aristotle However, Islamic culture didthan just conserve cl Jim Al Khalili is a physicist whose family has deep roots in one of the culturally leading families of Iraq His mother and first name are British and he was born and raised in Britain making him ideal to mediate between Islamic and European cultures in describing the wonders of this House The founding of the House of Wisdom by Al Mamun in the 800s A.D C.E was necessitated by dream in which the instructions came right from Aristotle However, Islamic culture didthan just conserve classical Greek learning The House of Wisdom was a scientific and scholarly research community that drew upon learning from the Egyptians, classical Greece, India and even some linkage to China to enlarge mankind s knowledge base To be learned in Europe during Medieval times meant to know not only Latin, but Arabic This center of learning attracted polymaths from diverse countries, cultural and religious backgrounds There are some many nuggets to be found here The studies in medicine were of the most practical importance during this period A thousand years ago the scientists there not only reproduced and improved an accurate measurement of the earth s diameter following the method of Pythagoras, but developed another novel approach measuring the angle from a mountain overlook to the horizon Recognizing that dusk must be related to the reflection of light off of ice in the upper atmosphere, they accurately measured the atmosphere to be over 50 miles deep Al Tusi appears to have been ahead of Copernicus in recognizing that the earth orbits the sun Our numeral system based on Indian math and the pioneering of decimal notation comes the House of Wisdom An excellent read This review is originally published at www.eventgate.net At school, one only gets to learn what he is taught In the case of students in the Arab World, we only got to learn about Western scientists like Galileo and Einstein It would be unfair though to claim that our curriculums left us entirely ignorant of our Arab and Muslim scientists because their names are still very familiar Though their achievements may not Feeling truly ashamed, I picked up Jim Al Khalili s Pathfinders The Golden A This review is originally published at www.eventgate.net At school, one only gets to learn what he is taught In the case of students in the Arab World, we only got to learn about Western scientists like Galileo and Einstein It would be unfair though to claim that our curriculums left us entirely ignorant of our Arab and Muslim scientists because their names are still very familiar Though their achievements may not Feeling truly ashamed, I picked up Jim Al Khalili s Pathfinders The Golden Age of Arabic Science in the hopes that reading about our early scientists may not just tell me about a long lost history barely spoken about It could also be the reason we would, eventually, start laying the first bricks of the Renaissance which Arabs and Muslims have been awaiting for so long, though doing very little to see happen.Al Khalili takes us back to a time when the Islamic Empire stretched from India to Spain It s a time when Muslims, and Arabs in general, excelled in every field there is before worldly matters That is, until power struggles got the best of them and, which eventually led to the decline of their power until this very day.It should be noted that, in Pathfinders, Al Khalili probes the theories of Arab scientists and their origins from a scientific and not a historical approach At places, it may require the reader to be familiar with the topic explained by Al Khalili including the theories and concepts which he writes that We learn at school since these are usually forgotten if not constantly used Also, in his explanation of al Biruni s method for measuring the height of a mountain, Al Khalili writes If you are not mathematically inclined you may want to skip the next few paragraphs However, readers with no major scientific background should face no difficulty in grasping most of the topics tackled by Al Khalili.One thing that goes unnoticed is Al Khalili s objective tone throughout the book It s clear how much effort he put into tracing the origins of scientific theories, giving each issue as much focus as he gives to the explanation of the theory or the invention itself.After presenting the marvels of the Arab world of science, Al Khalili concludes his book with the question of why today s Arab World lags behind in science He provides several hypothesis including religious and political While this is true, the main reason the Arab world remains in a coma could be explained through the following words of Al Khalili s But my point is not about the scientific achievements themselves but about the culture that makes such achievements possible, a culture that thirsts for and respects knowledge and learning It s true that the Arab World has enough dilemmas that could be seen as obstacles in the way of its reformation However, if we have the will to make a change and bring back our glory, what we see now as obstacles can be brushed aside to make way for tomorrow s leaders |Download Book ♾ The House of Wisdom: How Arabic Science Saved Ancient Knowledge and Gave Us the Renaissance ⚆ A myth shattering view of the Islamic world s myriad scientific innovations and the role they played in sparking the European Renaissance Many of the innovations that we think of as hallmarks of Western science had their roots in the Arab world of the middle ages, a period when much of Western Christendom lay in intellectual darkness Jim al Khalili, a leading British Iraqi physicist, resurrects this lost chapter of history, and given current East West tensions, his book could not be timelier With transporting detail, al Khalili places readers in the hothouses of the Arabic Enlightenment, shows how they led to Europe s cultural awakening, and poses the question Why did the Islamic world enter its own dark age after such a dazzling flowering I m a long time reader of books on the history of science I m fascinated with non European cultures and have been reading heavily in that topic area So this book should have been perfect for me, but instead it bored me Too often it read like a string of names and places with very little substantive information about the people being discussed The author covers so many people that none of them are given much space save for a few mathematicians whose contributions are discussed so technically I m a long time reader of books on the history of science I m fascinated with non European cultures and have been reading heavily in that topic area So this book should have been perfect for me, but instead it bored me Too often it read like a string of names and places with very little substantive information about the people being discussed The author covers so many people that none of them are given much space save for a few mathematicians whose contributions are discussed so technically that they were unreadable unless you enjoy reading math textbooks The flaw here is that the author is not a very good writer He lacks the ability to draw the reader in and flesh out his descriptions, and his introjection of himself and his personal history did not help I also found his dismissal of Arabic contributions to astrology and of the topic of astrology as a whole patronizing and ignorant Astrology did play a huge role in the development of science and it s worth considering that the brilliant people who used it like Kepler, Brahe etc, did so because they found it a useful tool, not because they were credulous fools There s another similar book out with the almost identical topic, which I may have to read because I would like to knowabout the role of early scientists in the Islamic world But this is not a book I would recommend as it is fairly heavy going and the space taken up by the author s continual assertions of how important his subjects were would have been better used telling usabout those proto scientists This book was excellent, beginning with the massive translation effort of known texts from Greek and Roman scientists into Arabic during the Abb sid Caliphate and the subsequent pursuit of and development of chemistry, astronomy, medicine, and mathematics by Arabic literate peoples al Khalili characterizes the science being done by its common language of communication, which at that time was Arabic rather than Latin or English the scientists he highlights were Muslim, Jewish, Christian, and This book was excellent, beginning with the massive translation effort of known texts from Greek and Roman scientists into Arabic during the Abb sid Caliphate and the subsequent pursuit of and development of chemistry, astronomy, medicine, and mathematics by Arabic literate peoples al Khalili characterizes the science being done by its common language of communication, which at that time was Arabic rather than Latin or English the scientists he highlights were Muslim, Jewish, Christian, and a few pagans, but they wrote in Arabic as their lingua, um, franca His discussion of the overlap between alchemy and chemistry as the science of chemistry developed was particularly worthwhile to me, as many people throw out actual science being done by scientists who also worked on alchemy that we now know to be flawed I appreciated his setting the record straight on how many scientists known to the Western canon and Arabic literate people alike held beliefs that we now know to be incorrect, but that this does not negate their contributions that we now know to be correct It can be challenging to look at historical figures further back in the development of knowledge and see them with the understanding of their time, and not just with judgement far clearer in retrospect than it could possibly have been at the time.It was also interesting to see the genesis of state funded big science projects in the caliphate, verifying Ptolemy s astronomical observations and then extending the realm of the observed to perform new calculations If you are a fan of librarians, you ll be cheering for the House of Wisdom, the Companions of the Verified Tables nerdiest science posse name ever , and the Arabic Egyptologist publishing hieroglyph to Arabic translation dictionaries in the ninth century Kind of disturbing to think of all the scientific insight and knowledge that one misses by not speaking or reading the language of the discoverers one can see why the translation phase of the texts of the time preceded the scientific and intellectual flowering I m grateful to all the Arabic texts that eventually got translated into English we have a lot of the Greek and Roman texts via this route, much like the medieval Irish monks but how muchmight we know if we had done better andthorough translation into English ourselves Kinda also want to go find books on the history of Indian science and the history of Chinese science I know a lot of good work was done there too The sections on the development of zero, decimals, and decimal fractions show some of this interaction of scholarship, both in the places where an idea was successfully communicated to other cultures and in the places where it had to be rediscovered in different places at different times, since it hadn t managed to make it out into the general global knowledge of scientists, insofar as such a thing existed which was not very far Clearly, we need a better babelfish Also interesting on the multicultural science doing front, al Khalili draws some parallels between the decline of Arabic intellectual centers and governments which exiled or persecuted their Jewish residents, particularly in Andalusian Spain But his final theory on what caused the decline of those Arabic literate cultural centers, which I wish he d giventhan a few pages to, was neither the encroachment of religious conservativism, the sacking of Baghdad by the Mongols, nor European colonialism Instead, he credits the lack of adoption of the printing press, due to the difficulty of setting correct grammatical Arabic in movable type I would have really liked to hearabout that theory, but alas, the book is short Interesting so far.I was one of those guilty of the simplistic reading of history that says Greek and Latin thought was absorbed into the Islamic Caliphate, translated, preserved and ultimately re entered European thought kick starting the enlightenment and the age of reason, without appreciating all the novel and new contributions that the arabic authors added to this pantheon of wisdom and learning.Gradually in the last few years I ve become increasingly aware of the arabic influence on, i Interesting so far.I was one of those guilty of the simplistic reading of history that says Greek and Latin thought was absorbed into the Islamic Caliphate, translated, preserved and ultimately re entered European thought kick starting the enlightenment and the age of reason, without appreciating all the novel and new contributions that the arabic authors added to this pantheon of wisdom and learning.Gradually in the last few years I ve become increasingly aware of the arabic influence on, in particular, number theory and engineering, and basic scientific development And so this book has arrived at a perfect time for as it coincides with my own developing intellectual progress What I am encountering so far is that obviously the story iscomplex,elaborate than I d previously appreciated The author writes with a uniquely personal voice, drawing in anecdotes from his youth and family along with his own reflections of investigating the material he s researched and presenting it in an an earnest sense of wanting to convince the reader of what they may not formally have fully appreciated.If you enjoy have your preconceptions shaken and learning something about history not frequently taught out of the microscopic focus on European development, then this important chronicle of what is often omitted or forgotten, then I recommend it.I should throw in a note of caution, that despite the best attempts of the author to clearly define all the participants, I did get a bit lost remembering who was who with all the arabic names, so some concentration is required