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Tuesday, 02 September 2014 04:46

Iranian Notables, Sources of Global Honor (14)

Iranian Notables, Sources of Global Honor (14)

As a reminder, we previously spoke of the prominent Iranian thinker, Abu Rayhan Birouni, and made you familiar with his viewpoints and works. Next to UN premises in the Austrian Capital, Vienna, there are the statues of four prominent astronomers, physicians, and scientists.

Where do you think these four prominent scientists belong to? The first statue belongs to the Iranian philosopher and scientist, Avicenna, whose book “Shafaa” is a comprehensive scientific and philosophical text, and his other work “Qanoun” is one of the well-known works in the history of world’s medicine. The second statue belongs to Birouni, the prominent Iranian mathematician, astronomer, and historian of 4th and 5th lunar centuries. The third statue belongs to the Iranian philosopher, mathematician, astronomer, and poet of the Saljuqid era, Omar Khayyam Nayshapouri, while the 4th statue belongs to the Iranian physician, philosopher, and chemist, Zakaria Razi, who is known as the discoverer of alcohol and sulfuric acid, and who has left everlasting works in medicine, chemistry, and philosophy. These four scientists have developed their knowledge in Iran and have presented their know-how to the international community.

As said, the prominent Iranian thinker, Abu Rayhan Mohammad bin Ahmad Birouni, mastered different branches of science including mathematics, geography, geology, anthropology, physics, and astronomy. He was born in Kharazam and passed away in Qazneh. At the time, these two cities were within the territory of Iranian dynasties. Measurement of density of eighteen valuable stones; measurement of the diameter and circumference of earth; adoption of a new approach for design of geographical maps; measurement of the distance between cities; and study of the beliefs and history of Indian people are some of the everlasting works of Birouni. Based on the study which has been carried out by European researchers, this Iranian scientist has penned 180 works, which consist of compilations and treatises. Out of them, 150 works are on mathematics, and astronomy, from which only 28 are currently at hand. According to Edward Saxchau, the Iranian scientist, Birouni, is the most important genius that history has witnessed. This Iranian genius had mastered several scientific courses, such as history, literature, philosophy, natural sciences, mathematics, geometry, and astronomy.

Nonetheless, throughout the movement of translation of scientific texts from Arabic to Latin (6th and 7th Centuries) none of the works of Birouni were translated to Latin. Possibly, the negligence of the scientific legacy of Birouni by the biographers of the Islamic era has contributed to this fact. Also, no work of Birouni is currently available on the criticism of Ptolemaic astronomy, in contrast to his contemporaries such as Ibn-e Haitham, and Khaje Nasir Ed-Din Tousi, whose works on this domain have remained to this day. These criticisms constitute one of the highly important aspects of astronomy of the Islamic era in the 7th and 8th Centuries and have influenced the works of Copernicus in this realm.

Birouni believed that coupled with any scientific reasoning, a test should be carried out to realize the correctness or incorrectness of citations, and interpretations. The application of experimental methods in science, which was one of the innovations of  Birouni, was recommend by a number of other scientists in Europe, forming the gist of today’s experimental and scientific methodology.

This renowned Iranian scientist has also carried out valuable studies on Optics. In his studies, Birouni has pointed out that the speed of light is more than the speed of sound; a fact that Western scientists realized several centuries later.

He has also measured earth’s area and has presented equations for measurement of earth’s hemisphere.

He has also authored texts on the history of several countries.

Birouni is the first scientist, who has studied geography based on contemporary approaches and has founded natural sciences on mathematics.

He also presented new methods on mapping, which was based on a blend of mathematics and geometry. He also measured the geographical width of the city of Balkh with an accuracy which was very close to precision of contemporary measurements. A thousand years prior to Albert Einstein, this renowned Iranian scientist, Birouni, declared that mass has been made of very small particles, which are currently known as photons.

Birouni also made changes in the calendar which was more appropriate than the editions made by Pope Gregory, six centuries after the era of this Iranian scientist. Birouni has studied the circular movement of earth; the force of gravity; the spherical shape of earth; our planet’s revolution round its axis, and earth’s circular movement round the sun in an orbit; all of which were researched by Copernicus, Newton, and Kepler, six centuries later.

Birouni presented a method for measurement of density of eighteen different types of precious stones, and drew a table to this end. He also measured earth’s radius. Hence, many of the researchers of the contemporary era, upon study of the everlasting works of Birouni, name him as a prominent scientist, whose valuable works have remained valid to this day.

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