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30 OCTOBER 2015

Science and Islam: The Islamic Golden Age

"Physicist Jim Al-Khalili travels through Syria, Iran, Tunisia and Spain to tell the story of the great leap in scientific knowledge that took place in the Islamic world between the 8th and 14th centuries. Its legacy is tangible, with terms like algebra, algorithm and alkali all being Arabic in origin and at the very heart of modern science – there would be no modern mathematics or physics without algebra, no computers without algorithms and no chemistry without alkalis.

He discovers how medieval Islamic scholars helped turn the magical and occult practice of alchemy into modern chemistry and argues that these scholars are among the first people to insist that all scientific theories are backed up by careful experimental observation, bringing a rigour to science that didn’t really exist before."

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14th century2009 • 8th century • Abbasid Caliphate • Abu Hamid al-Ghazzali • Abu Nasr Muhammad al-Farabi • Al-Farabi • Al-Khwarizmi • Al-Muallim Al-Thani • algebraalgorithm • alkali • Amira Bennison • Ancient GreekArabic scienceastronomy • Averroes • BaghdadBBC Four • Canon of Medicine • chemistry • early medicine • fundamental research • geometry • George Saliba • Greek culture • Greek geometry • Greek mathematics • history of ideashistory of scholarshiphistory of science • House of Wisdom in Baghdad • Ian Stewart • Ibn Arabi • Ibn Khaldun • Ibn Rushd • Ibn Sina • India • Indian texts • Iran • Islamic design • Islamic geometric design • Islamic Golden Age • Islamic mathematics • Islamic patterns • Islamic science • Islamic world • Jim Al-Khalili • language translation • mathematical elegance • medieval Islamic civilisation • medieval Islamic science • middle ages • Muslim territories • Nader El-Bizri • Okasha El Daly • outward-looking culture • patronage • Persian texts • personal journey • Peter Pormann • pioneering engineering • pioneering mathematics • pioneering science • progressive societyrenaissance • repeated geometrical shapes • science and Islam • Science and Islam (2009) • scientific knowledge • Simon Schaffer • SpainSyriatelevision documentary • Thabit ibn Qurrah • The Sabian • The Translation Movement • trigonometry • TunisiaTurkey

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
16 NOVEMBER 2012

Thomas Allen: whimsical pulp fiction cut-outs

"Playing the role of scientist, [Thomas] Allen enlists mid 20th–century books on the natural phenomenon of science(astronomy, physics, electricity, biology) and presents his research as if through the eyes of his 8–year old daughter. How would she understand and portray these theories and absolutes of science?

Allen's signature use of cutting and repurposing book illustrations has not vanished. Instead of the pulp fiction genre, Allen plays with 50's era versions of clean cut youths and domesticated moms. His unmistakable talent for creating the illusion of 3D in photography with his deft cuts and crimps, establishes a magical world in which a boy and girl play tag creating their own kind of electricity, a milkman makes a very special delivery in space, young toughs play marbles with the solar system and a mother busily sews her own version of 'string theory.'"

(Foley Gallery, 2012, New York NY)

Fig.1 Bearings, 2012. Fig.2 Eclipsed, 2012.

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1950s201220th century2Dartistastronomybiologybookbook illustrations • clean cut • compositioncut-out • cut-out characters • cut-out illustration • cuts and crimps • design craftdomesticatedelectricityexhibition • Foley Gallery • gallerymagical worldmid 20th-century • natural phenomenon • physicspop-uppulp fictionrepurposingsciencescientific illustrationshallow depth of field • theories and absolutes of science • Thomas Allen • through the eyes • vintage books • whimsical interactions

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
01 JANUARY 2011

New Directions in Interdisciplinarity: Broad, Deep, and Critical

"Before interdisciplinarity in either the disciplinary producing or disciplinary–circumscribing senses could manifest itself, disciplinarity itself had to take on its peculiarly modern form. Any assessment of interdisciplinarity – multi – and trans–, noncritical and critical– will benefit from an appreciation of this background.

Prior to the modern period, learning exhibited a kind of unity that might be called predisciplinary. Aristotle, it is true, introduced distinctions between logic, physics, and ethics, but these were never of a kind to raise the possibility of cross–disciplinary formations such as 'physical ethics.' During the Middle Ages, the division of the artes liberales into grammar, rhetoric, dialectic (the trivium), arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music (the quadrivium) ensured that the education of 'free men' included all the knowledge and skills needed to exercise their social roles. Insofar as it existed, disciplinary specialization was present more in the 'servile arts' of artisans and tradesmen. Not even teachers of the liberal arts became specialists in their different branches, because the idea of, for example, possessing arithmetic without grammar would have been considered a deformation of the mind. In the monastery schools, the unfettered pursuit of knowledge was viewed skeptically, criticized as curiositas, and therefore subject to disciplinization in a premodern behavioral sense. Only at the end of the Middle Ages, as the infinite pursuit of disciplinary knowledge took on the character of a spiritual activity, would Renaissance men become necessary to cross boundaries and synthesize diverse areas of learning."

(Robert Frodeman and Carl Mitcham, 2007, p.508)

[1][2] Frodeman, R. and C. Mitcham (2007). "New Directions in Interdisciplinarity: Broad, Deep, and Critical." Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society 27(6).

TAGS

Aristotlearithmetic • artes liberales • artisanastronomy • cross boundaries • cross-disciplinary • curiositas • dialecticdisciplinary knowledgedisciplinary specialisationdisciplinesdiscursive fielddivisionethicsEuropean Renaissance • free men • geometrygrammarinterdisciplinarityknowledgeknowledge integrationlearningliberal artslogicmiddle agesModern • modern period • monastery schools • multidisciplinaritymusicorderingphysics • predisciplinary • premodernpursuit of knowledgeQuadriviumrhetoricservile artsskillsocial construction of knowledgesocial rolesspecialisation • spiritual activity • synthesis • tradesmen • transdisciplinarityTrivium • unity

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
20 AUGUST 2009

PaperScope: a tool for graphically representing reference and citation chains

"PaperScope is a tool for graphically exploring the Astrophysics Data System (ADS) which is a database of published astrophysics papers. PaperScope is extremely useful for identifying the citation/reference relationships between papers, and enables the user to visualize these relationships to make locating papers of interest easier. Use it for constructing reference or citation chains, as well as identifying common references/citations between several key papers. It is a tool designed to simplify the process of searching for relevant papers to an astrophysics researcher whether they be a professor, post doc, or student."
(Mark Holliman, Royal Observatory, Edinburgh)

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ads • Astro Grid • astronomyastrophysics • Astrophysics Data System • citation • citation chains • cone treedatabasediscursive field • e-Infrastructure • Edinburghgraphic representationhierarchical visualisationhierarchyICTinformation graphicsintegrationJava • Mark Holliman • metadatanotationordering • PaperScope • precedencepublishreference • reference chains • relationshipsrepositoryresearchresearch papers • Royal Observatory Edinburgh • technologytoolvisual depictionvisualisation • WFAU

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
20 NOVEMBER 2007

The Seven Liberal Arts: The Trivium & The Quadrivium

"Originally the liberal arts were seven in number. They were divided into the three–fold Trivium of Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric, and the four–fold Quadrivium of Arithmetic, Geometry, Music, and Astronomy. These words mean, respectively, a three–way and a four–way crossroads, implying that these paths of knowledge are fundamentally interconnected –– and, by extension, that all other paths can be found to intersect here, as well. The T[rivium]. was the basis of elementary education (whence we probably get the word 'trivial'): Grammar taught the craft of reading and writing; Logic, of careful reasoning; and Rhetoric, of effective communication. The Q[uadrivium]. was the basis of advanced education: Arithmetic taught the science of number; Geometry, of form; Music, of sound (and of 'harmony' in the most general sense of the word –– 'number in motion', as it was often put); Astronomy, of time (of 'form in motion'). Moreover, from the very beginning, whether openly acknowledged or carefully alluded to, each of the Quadrivial sciences was accompanied by its complementary metaphysical art. Each dealt not only with the outer structures, but also with the inner meanings of its discipline. Thus, Arithmetic included Arithmology, the understanding that numbers were not merely quantities, but also qualities (that 'two', for instance, is also 'duality, polarity'); Geometry included what is nowadays called Geomancy, the understanding (in, for example, the design of temples or cathedrals, or in the graphic arts) that the spirit and the emotions can be affected in particular ways by particular forms; Astronomy included Astrology, the divination of the meanings of cycles of time; and Music included not only the study of 'practical theory', of nomenclature and technique (e.g. 'this is a minor third', 'this is the Mixolydian mode'), but also the study of 'speculative theory', of the meanings and influences of tones and intervals and scales.

Traditionally the seven liberal arts have been positioned in opposition to the 'servile arts'. In this sense while the liberal arts generally refer to knowledge 'appropriate for free men' (social and political elites) the servile arts have been associated with specialised tradesman skills and knowledge e.g. engineering and design."
(Steven C. Rasmussen 28 March 1996)

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arithmeticastronomycathedralcraftcurriculumcycledesigneducationeducational modelemploymentengineeringEuropeangeometrygrammar • high middle ages • interconnectedliberal arts • liberalis arts • logic • medieval university • musicpremodernprofessionalismQuadriviumqualityrhetoric • scholastic guild • scienceservile arts • seven liberal arts • skills • studia generalia • studium • trade • tradesmanship • Trivium • universitas magistrorum • universitas magistrorum et scholarium • universitas scholarium • universityvocationvocational training
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