Lessons from the past: science and rationalism in medieval Islam

In a bid to shed light on the often overlooked Muslim contribution to the history of science, long-term trustee and supporter of Foundation for Science (FSTC), Technology and Civilisation, Professor Jim al-Khalili, presented the 2014 Voltaire Lecture based on ‘Lessons from the past: science and rationalism in medieval Islam’, Tuesday, April 15th 2014. 

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In a bid to shed light on the often overlooked Muslim contribution to the history of science, long-term trustee and supporter of Foundation for Science, Technology and Civilisation (FSTC), Professor Jim al-Khalili, presented the 2014 Voltaire Lecture based on ‘Lessons from the past: science and rationalism in medieval Islam’, Tuesday, April 15th 2014.


Figure 1: BHA President Jim Al-Khalili delivering 2014 Voltaire Lecture (Source)

Professor Jim al-Khalili, a British theoretical nuclear physicist, professor at University of Surrey, and academic author and broadcaster, took the audience on a journey of the golden age of science in the Muslim world dating from the 7th to 17th century. From the irreplaceable contributions made by polymaths such as Ibn al-Haytham to other scientists who flourished within and without Baghdad’s celebrated Bayt al-Hikma (The House of Wisdom), Professor Jim al-Khalili did not fail to captivate the audience’s attention.

Although scientists prospered during these 1000 years of scientific, technological and civilisational advances, Professor Jim al-Khalili set out to look at why the Muslim world today produces so few scientists in comparison. However, he concluded on a positive reflection that scientists in the contemporary Muslim world, though not as abundant as they once were, are once again beginning to thrive, albeit, in isolated bubbles of academia.


Figure 2: Professor Jim Al-Khalili, British Theoretical Nuclear Physicist, Academic, Author and Broadcaster, browsing through the book
“1001 Inventions: Muslim Heritage in Our World” (
Source).

For more information about this lecture, please visit the BHA website.

It may also interest you to visit the following Muslim Heritage articles authored or concerning Professor Jim al-Khalili:


Figure 3: Prof Jim Al-Khalili together with Prof Salim Al-Hassani, President of FSTC, at BHA 2013 Hollyoake Lecture (Source)

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