Light From the East: How the Science of Medieval Islam by John Freely

By John Freely

Long earlier than the eu Renaissance, whereas the Western international was once languishing in what used to be referred to as the “Dark Ages,” the Arab global used to be ablaze with the data, invention, and creativity of its Golden Age. throughout the astrologers, physicians, philosophers, mathematicians, and alchemists of the Muslim international, this data used to be carried from Samarkand and Baghdad to Cordoba and past, influencing Western thinkers from Thomas Aquinas to Copernicus and assisting to motivate the cultural phenomenon of the Renaissance. John Freely’s spellbinding tale is determined opposed to a history of the melting pot of the cultures concerned and concludes with the decline of Islam’s Golden Age, which led the West to fail to remember the debt it owed to the Muslim international and the impression of medieval Islamic civilization in forging the beginnings of recent science.

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833–42). He is credited with sixteen works on astronomy and three on mathematics. His best known work is The Damascene Tables, a revision of Ptolemy’s Almagest in which he introduces the trigonometric functions of sine, cosine and tangent in place of the chords used by the Greeks. Habash modified Ptolemy’s tables for the motions of the sun, moon and planets based on his own calculations, which were used by many later Arabic astronomers. Another renowned astronomer of the early ‘Abbasid period is Ahmad al-Farghani, whose nisba (our equivalent of a last name) comes from his birthplace in Transoxania.

The principal modification made by Ptolemy is that the centre of each epicycle moves uniformly (though this is not true for all planets), with respect to a point called the equant, which is displaced from the centre of the deferent, the inner circle, a concept that was to be the subject of controversy in later times. Ptolemy’s mapping of the celestial sphere led him to develop spherical trigonometry and the technique of stereographic projection, the basis of the instrument later known as the astrolabe, which Arabic astronomers were to use with great effectiveness.

20 the land of the greeks Galen of Pergamum (130–ca. 204), the greatest physician of antiquity, was a younger contemporary of Ptolemy. He served his medical apprenticeship at the healing shrine of Asclepius at Pergamum, where his work treating wounded gladiators gave him first-hand knowledge of human anatomy, physiology and neurology. After further studies in Smyrna, Corinth and Alexandria he moved to Rome, where he spent most of the rest of his life, serving as physician to the emperors Marcus Aurelius (r.

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