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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
02 MARCH 2014

TED: simply toying with risk so as to re-affirm the comfortable?

"We hear that not only is change accelerating but that the pace of change is accelerating as well. While this is true of computational carrying–capacity at a planetary level, at the same time ––and in fact the two are connected–– we are also in a moment of cultural de–acceleration. We invest our energy in futuristic information technologies, including our cars, but drive them home to kitsch architecture copied from the 18th century. The future on offer is one in which everything changes, so long as everything stays the same. We'll have Google Glass, but still also business casual. This timidity is our path to the future? No, this is incredibly conservative, and there is no reason to think that more Gigaflops will inoculate us. Because, if a problem is in fact endemic to a system, then the exponential effects of Moore's Law also serve to amplify what's broken. It is more computation along the wrong curve, and I don't think this is necessarily a triumph of reason. Part of my work explores deep technocultural shifts, from post–humanism to the post–anthropocene, but TED's version has too much faith in technology, and not nearly enough commitment to technology. It is placebo technoradicalism, toying with risk so as to re–affirm the comfortable. So our machines get smarter and we get stupider. But it doesn't have to be like that. Both can be much more intelligent. Another futurism is possible."

(Benjamin Bratton, 20 December 2013)

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2013 • American Idol (reality television) • astrophysics • Benjamin Bratton • bright futures • business casual • California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology • call to actioncommunicate to the massescomplex issuescomplexitycultural changecultural transformation • design and geopoltics • egalitarian utopia • epiphany • epiphimony • frightening problems • Google Glass • information technology • infotainment • insight and realisation • intellectual viability • kitsch architecture • Kony2012meaningful ideas • middlebrow megachurch infotainment • moment of wonder • oversimplificationpersonal journeypersonal revelationpersonal story • personal testimony • placebo innovation • placebo medicine • placebo politics • placebo science • placebo technoradicalism • popularisation • re-affirm the comfortable • reductionism • rhetorical device • San Diego • smart people • smart things • swallowed without chewing • technological determinismtechnology and culturetechnology innovationTED Talks • toying with risk • triumphs and tribulations • University of California • vicarious insight • world-changing ideas

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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