Thursday, January 27, 2011

Book of the Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices

al-Jazari lived in the late 12th and early 13th century, near modern-day Iraq, and was a marvelous mechanical engineer and scientist who built some amazing machines, which you have to see to believe:

Image: Metropolitan Museum of Art
Lest you think these are merely fanciful illustrations, al-Jazari wrote complete instructions on how to build the machines in his, "Book of the Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices (Kitáb fí ma'rifat al-hiyal al-handasiyya)" in 1206 at the request of the sultan.

Donald Hill, translated the text into English in 1974, and a book review of the translation from New Scientist magazine is available online.

The science of automata, as such devices are called, is felt to be the precursor to the modern science of robotics.  al-Jazari's book was written centuries before the famous sketches of Leonardo Da Vinci, and clearly establish al-Jazari as the father of robotics.

Furthing reading:
1. Research by Malaysian scientists on al-Jazari's water supply system
2. Listing of books, via Google Books, showing al-Jazari's importance
3. YouTube videos showing how al-Jazari's inventions would have worked

1 comment:

KM said...

Unbelievable! Thanks for sharing. As always, nothing mundane here :-).