Go Figure

One of the things that I enjoy most about life on the road is learning something new. Travel affords plenty of opportunities to do that provided you’re open to it.

John and I were taking in the flower power of Gülhane Park when we stumbled across the Istanbul Museum of the History of Science and Technology in Islam located inside the park.


A German artistic contribution to the museum.

Before you yawn, consider this: Muslim mathematicians (pardon the pun) zeroed in on the number 0 not to mention the arithmetical decimal system. Hate algebra and trigonometry as much as me? Blame the Muslim math whizzes who came up with both in the 9th Century.

Yeah, those ancient Muslims really loved their math. Astrophysicists everywhere are grateful since it led to the invention of the astrolabe, which was used to calculate the altitude and azimuth (an Arab term) of the sun, the moon, stars and planets. It was also used to measure distances and heights.


John snapped this representation of a geocentric universe.

Muslims never doubted they lived on a spherical planet. That combined with their mathematical acumen led to some amazingly accurate geographical maps.


Recreated 12th Century map.

Medical science owes a lot to the Muslim world as well. The birth of pharmacy as an independent, well-defined profession was established in the early 9th Century by Muslim scholars. Hospitals were developed not just as places of healing, but also of learning. Physicians were trained and, from the 10th Century, licensed to practice medicine. There’s even evidence to suggest that Muslims were using anesthesia hundreds of years before ether was adopted in 19th-Century Europe.

For centuries, Islam encouraged the pursuit of scientific knowledge. Mosques became centers of learning unlike Christian churches which perceived the pursuit of science as a threat. Consequently, the Muslim world consumed the knowledge of other civilizations, corrected it, enhanced it and enjoyed several centuries of leading the world with their own discoveries and technological inventions. Modern science is built on it.

Go figure!


Donning glider wings, Hezarafen Ahmed Çelebi flew from the Galata Tower in 1630.

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