Monday, May 14, 2007

Salute to Abbas Ibn Firnas

OK, I have to admit I enjoy reading the articles from the Saudi Aramco World magazine. They tell me things I would never have imagined about Arab and Islamic history and are well written, eloquent and interesting. Today I was reading through one article in particular about an old Turkish gentleman in Germany who has opened a museum of Islamic medieval science. It was quite interesting, but my eye caught the name of 'Abbas Ibn Firnas who was credited with the first scientific attempt at flight in recorded history. Now, I had always thought it was the Wright brothers who invented the plane but it seems that when it comes to unpowered flight, Ibn Firnas came first.

I found more about this man who, at the age of 65 decided to fly his glider off of a mountain in al-Andalus, present day Spain, the year was 875CE. The flight was actually quite successful but his landing was terrible, he had hurt his back severely and was unable to attempt this again. Amazingly, Wikipedia also had an entry for him and I was flabbergasted to discover that there is even a crater named after him on the Moon! On another note, the worlds first example of a parachute was tested in 852 by Armen Firman, who had the bright idea of jumping off of a high tower in Cordoba, also in Andalusia.

It is a shame that in the entire Arab world, there isn't a single place where scientists and men of knowledge can pursue their passion without being forced to take on other jobs to make ends meet, get arrested, or eventually get forced abroad. Shame, shame shame! Regardless, my quest of delving deeper into Arab and Islamic history continues.

1 comment:

Aardvark EF-111B said...

thanks for taking part in stopping leunitacs like Amre Al-Abyad poisoning our world, please forward his blog address to as many friends as you can to pin him down