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Anonymous Arabist

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God’s Will Holds Sway in Court Friday, 16 October, 2009...6:50 pm
We Invented it First, Several Centuries After Those Other Guys
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From Wikipedia:
The geocentric model held sway into the early modern age; from the late 16th cen
tury onward it was gradually replaced by the heliocentric model of Copernicus, G
alileo and Kepler.
Whereas over in the mysterious east, which we for some reason insist on depictin
g as backwards and inferior:
Muhammad ibn Jābir al-Harrānī al-Battānī (Albatenius) (853-929) discovered that the direct
ion of the Sun’s eccentric was changing, which in modern astronomy is equivalent t
o the Earth moving in an elliptical orbit around the Sun.[33]
In the late ninth century, Ja’far ibn Muhammad Abu Ma’shar al-Balkhi (Albumasar) dev
eloped a planetary model which some have interpreted as a heliocentric model. Th
is is due to his orbital revolutions of the planets being given as heliocentric
revolutions rather than geocentric revolutions, and the only known planetary the
ory in which this occurs is in the heliocentric theory. His work on planetary th
eory has not survived, but his astronomical data was later recorded by al-Hashim
i, Abū Rayhān al-Bīrūnī and al-Sijzi.[41]
In the early eleventh century, al-Biruni had met several Indian scholars who bel
ieved in a heliocentric system. In his Indica, he discusses the theories on the
Earth’s rotation supported by Brahmagupta and other Indian astronomers, while in h
is Canon Masudicus, al-Biruni writes that Aryabhata’s followers assigned the first
movement from east to west to the Earth and a second movement from west to east
to the fixed stars. Al-Biruni also wrote that al-Sijzi also believed the Earth
was moving and invented an astrolabe called the “Zuraqi” based on this idea:[42]
Mo’ayyeduddin Urdi (d. 1266) was the first of the Maragheh astronomers to develop
a non-Ptolemaic model, and he proposed a new theorem, the “Urdi lemma”.[101] Nasīr al-
Dīn al-Tūsī (1201-1274) resolved significant problems in the Ptolemaic system by devel
oping the Tusi-couple as an alternative to the physically problematic equant int
roduced by Ptolemy,[102] and conceived a plausible model for elliptical orbits.[
81] Tusi’s student Qutb al-Din al-Shirazi (1236-1311), in his The Limit of Accompl
ishment concerning Knowledge of the Heavens, discussed the possibility of helioc
entrism. ‘Umar al-Katibi al-Qazwini (d. 1277), who also worked at the Maragheh obs
ervatory, in his Hikmat al-’Ain, wrote an argument for a heliocentric model, thoug
h he later abandoned the idea.[78]
For example, it was Ibn al-Shatir’s concern for observational accuracy which led h
im to eliminate the epicycle in the Ptolemaic solar model and all the eccentrics
, epicycles and equant in the Ptolemaic lunar model. His model was thus in bette
r agreement with empirical observations than any previous model,[91] and was als
o the first that permitted empirical testing.[103] His work thus marked a turnin
g point in astronomy, which may be considered a “Scientific Revolution before the
Renaissance”.[91] His rectified model was later adapted into a heliocentric model
by Copernicus,[102] which was mathematically achieved by reversing the direction
of the last vector connecting the Earth to the Sun.[4] In the published version
of his masterwork, De revolutionibus orbium coelestium, Copernicus also cites t
he theories of al-Battani, Arzachel and Averroes as influences,[81] while the wo
rks of Ibn al-Haytham and al-Biruni were also known in Europe at the time.
During this period, Islamic-ruled regions of Europe, such as Al-Andalus, the Emi
rate of Sicily, and southern Italy, were slowly being reconquered by Christians.
This led to the Arabic-Latin translation movement, which saw the assimilation o
f knowledge from the Islamic world by Western European science, including astron
omy.[4] In addition, Byzantine astronomers also translated Arabic texts on astro
nomy into Medieval Greek during this time. In particular, Gregory Choniades tran
slated several Zij treatises, including the Zij-i Ilkhani of the Maragheh observ
atory, and may have played a role in the transmission of their work (such as the
Tusi-couple) to Europe, where it eventually influenced Copernican heliocentrism
.[3]
And on the same page I find out that more Muslims have traveled in space than I
had previously been aware of:
In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, there have also been a number of Musl
im astronauts, the first being Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud as a Payl
oad Specialist aboard STS-51-G Space Shuttle Discovery, followed by Muhammed Far
is aboard Soyuz TM-2 and Soyuz TM-3 to Mir space station; Abdul Ahad Mohmand abo
ard Soyuz TM-5 to Mir; Talgat Musabayev (one of the top 25 astronauts by time in
space) as a flight engineer aboard Soyuz TM-19 to Mir, commander of Soyuz TM-27
to Mir, and commander of Soyuz TM-32 and Soyuz TM-31 to International Space Sta
tion (ISS); and Anousheh Ansari, the first woman to travel to ISS and the fourth
space tourist.
In 2007, Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor from Malaysia traveled to ISS with his Expediti
on 16 crew aboard Soyuz TMA-11 as part of the Angkasawan program during Ramadan,
for which the National Fatwa Council wrote Guidelines for Performing Islamic Ri
tes (Ibadah) at the International Space Station, giving advice on issues such as
prayer in a low-gravity environment, the location of Mecca from ISS, determinat
ion of prayer times, and issues surrounding fasting. Shukor also celebrated Eid
ul-Fitr aboard ISS. He was both an astronaut and an orthopedic surgeon, and is m
ost notable for being the first to perform biomedical research in space, mainly
related to the characteristics and growth of liver cancer and leukemia cells and
the crystallization of various proteins and microbes in space.[123]
Other prominent Muslim scientists involved in research on the space sciences and
space exploration include Essam Heggy who is working in the NASA Mars Explorati
on Program in the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, as well as Ahmed Sal
em, Alaa Ibrahim, Mohamed Sultan, and Ahmed Noor.[124]
Some other cool stuff:
The first mechanical astrolabes with gears were invented in the Muslim world, an
d were perfected by Ibn Samh (c. 1020). One such device with eight gear-wheels w
as also constructed by Abū Rayhān al-Bīrūnī in 996. These can be considered as an ancestor
of the mechanical clocks developed by later Muslim engineers.[144]
Navigational astrolabe
The first navigational astrolabe was invented in the Islamic world during the Mi
ddle Ages, and employed the use of a polar projection system.[145]
Orthographical astrolabe
Abu Rayhan al-Biruni invented and wrote the earliest treatise on the orthographi
cal astrolabe in the 1000s.[64]
Universal astrolabe (Saphaea)
The first astrolabe instruments were used to read the rise of the time of rise o
f the Sun and fixed stars. The first universal astrolabes were later constructed
in the Islamic world and which, unlike their predecessors, did not depend on th
e latitude of the observer and could be used anywhere on the Earth. The basic id
ea for a latitude-independent astrolabe was conceived in the 9th century by Haba
sh al-Hasib al-Marwazi in Baghdad and the topic was later discussed in the early
11th century by Al-Sijzi in Persia.[146]
The first known universal astrolabe to be constructed was by Ali ibn Khalaf al-S
hakkaz, an Arabic herbalist or apothecary in 11th century Al-Andalus. His instru
ment could solve problems of spherical astronomy for any geographic latitude, th
ough in a somewhat more complicated fashion than the standard astrolabe. Another
, more advanced and more famous, universal astrolabe was constructed by Abū Ishāq Ib
rāhīm al-Zarqālī (Arzachel) soon after. His instrument became known in Europe as the “Saph
aea”.[147] It was a universal lamina (plate) which “constituted a universal device r
epresenting a stereographic projection for the terrestrial equator and could be
used to solve all the problems of spherical astronomy for any latitude.”[148]
Zuraqi
The Zuraqi is a unique astrolabe invented by Al-Sijzi for a heliocentric planeta
ry model in which the Earth is moving rather than the sky.[42]
Planisphere
In the early 11th century, Abū Rayhān al-Bīrūnī invented and wrote the first treatise on t
he planisphere, which was an early analog computer.[64][149] The astrolabe was a
predecessor of the modern planisphere.
Linear astrolabe
A famous work by Sharaf al-Dīn al-Tūsī is one in which he describes the linear astrola
be, sometimes called the “staff of al-Tusi”, which he invented.[150]
Astrolabic clock
Ibn al-Shatir invented the astrolabic clock in 14th century Syria.[151]
Various analog computer devices were invented to compute the latitudes of the Su
n, Moon, and planets, the ecliptic of the Sun, the time of day at which planetar
y conjunctions will occur, and for performing linear interpolation.
Equatorium
The Equatorium was an analog computer invented by Abū Ishāq Ibrāhīm al-Zarqālī (Arzachel) i
al-Andalus, probably around 1015 CE. It is a mechanical device for finding the
longitudes and positions of the Moon, Sun, and planets, without calculation usin
g a geometrical model to represent the celestial body’s mean and anomalistic posit
ion.[152]
Mechanical geared calendar computer
Abu Rayhan Biruni also invented the first mechanical lunisolar calendar computer
which employed a gear train and eight gear-wheels.[153] This was an early examp
le of a fixed-wired knowledge processing machine.[154]
Volvelle
The volvelle, also called a wheel chart, is a type of slide chart, paper constru
ctions with rotating parts. It is considered an early example of a paper analog
computer.[155] The volvelle can be traced back to “certain Arabic treateses on hum
oral medicine”[156] and to Biruni (c. 1000) who made important contributions to th
e development of the volvelle.[157] In the 20th century, the volvelle had many d
iverse uses.
Torquetum
Jabir ibn Aflah (Geber) (c. 1100-1150) invented the torquetum, an observational
instrument and mechanical analog computer device used to transform between spher
ical coordinate systems.[158] It was designed to take and convert measurements m
ade in three sets of coordinates: horizon, equatorial, and ecliptic.
Castle clock with programmable analog computer
In 1206, Al-Jazari invented his largest astronomical clock, the “castle clock”, whic
h is considered to be the first programmable analog computer.[159] It displayed
the zodiac and the solar and lunar orbits. Another innovative feature of the clo
ck was a pointer which traveled across the top of a gateway and caused automatic
doors to open every hour.[160]
Mechanical astrolabe with geared calendar computer
In 1235, Abi Bakr of Isfahan invented a brass astrolabe with a geared calendar m
ovement based on the design of Abū Rayhān al-Bīrūnī’s mechanical calendar computer.[161] Ab
Bakr’s geared astrolabe uses a set of gear-wheels and is the oldest surviving com
plete mechanical geared machine in existence.[162][163]
Plate of Conjunctions
In the 15th century, al-Kashi invented the Plate of Conjunctions, a computing in
strument used to determine the time of day at which planetary conjunctions will
occur,[164] and for performing linear interpolation.[165]
And there’s a lot more, but my copy-and-paste fingers are getting tired.
Astronomy in Medieval Islam Wikipedia page.
This came up because I just looked at an article about the Vatican’s dusting off s
ome old astronomical equipment they’ve kept sequestered away for years, including
something I had never heard of before, an orrery.
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Tags: astrolabe, astronomy, heliocentric, Islam, planisphere, Wikipedia, zuraqi
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