Pathfinders: The Golden Age of Arabic Science, By Jim Al-Khalili
The story of a pre-Renaissance renaissance
Sunday 01 April 2012
Beginning in the 8th century, a series of enlightened caliphs began to commission translations of important texts from Persian and Greek into Arabic, laying the groundwork for a period of unprecedented intellectual activity in the Middle East. Geniuses such as the physicist Ibn al-Haytham and the philosopher Ibn Sina did much to influence Europe's own Renaissance, seven centuries later.
Although occasionally bogged down in historiographic debate, Jim Al-Khalili's book is a superb read full of fascinating pen portraits. We learn of the Berber polymath Ibn Firnas, who "at the age of 65 ... built a rudimentary hang-glider and launched himself from the steep side of a mountain". Eat that, Leonardo.
Listen to his collaboration with Naughty Boymusic
Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Rape threats, death threats and a police investigation after video poking fun at an Islamic Party in Malaysia goes viral
- 2 Katie Hopkins attacked me on Twitter — so I reported her to the police for inciting racial hatred
- 3 Gamers confess the worst things they've done in The Sims
- 4 6-year-old writes ice cold Valentine's card to his stepmother
- 5 Syrian child photographed 'surrendering to camera because she thought it was a gun'
Tidal launch: The most pretentious lines from Alicia Keys' valedictory speech
Tidal: Jay Z's Spotify rival criticised for making wealthy artists even richer
Tidal launch: Madonna insists Jay Z's new streaming service is 'not about consumption and greed'
Top Gear live to go ahead: Jeremy Clarkson to join Richard Hammond and James May... just don't call it Top Gear
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold
Katie Hopkins attacked me on Twitter — so I reported her to the police for inciting racial hatred
Street preacher quoting from the Bible fined for calling homosexuality an 'abomination'
Woman filmed launching racist tirade against men on the Tube for speaking in 'own lingo'
David Cameron calls Labour 'hopeless, sneering socialists' while announcing 7-day NHS plans
Revealed: Putin's army of pro-Kremlin bloggers
Katie Hopkins reported to the police for race hatred by Labour MP Simon Danczuk after tweet about Pakistani men