President of FSTC with Dick and Dom in "Absolute Genius" CBBC Programme

Scholar, inventor, mechanical engineer, craftsman and artist Al-Jazari featured on Dick and Dom's "Absolute Genius", Wednesday 26th February at 5:30 pm, CBBC. In a bid to engage pre-school children in the sciences, the BBC launched its second series of the CBBC programme, “Absolute Genius”. This week’s featured ‘Genius’ was renowned engineer Al-Jazari, and included an interview with the President of FSTC, Professor Salim Al-Hassani, at the Bodleian Library.

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Figure 1: Dick and Dom in their acclaimed show, “Absolute Genius” (Source)

Scholar, inventor, mechanical engineer, craftsman and artist Al-Jazari featured on Dick and Dom's "Absolute Genius", Wednesday 26th February at 5:30 pm, CBBC. In a bid to engage pre-school children in the sciences, the BBC launched its second series of the CBBC programme, “Absolute Genius”. This week’s featured ‘Genius’ was renowned engineer Al-Jazari, and included an interview with the President of FSTC, Professor Salim Al-Hassani, at the Bodleian Library.

Please click here to watch the whole episode Dick and Dom's "Absolute Genius" 
(BBC iPlayer only available to UK viewers)

 
Figure 2-3: Professor Salim al-Hassani with Dick and Dom in the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford (Source)

FSTC welcomes this initiative which plays a crucial part in remembering 1000 years of creative contributions by the classical Islamic world to human civilisation, between 700 and  1700 CE.

Al-Jazari was born in Al-Jazira, an area lying between the Tigris and the Euphrates in North Mesopotamia. He flourished in Diyarbakir, now a city part of modern day Turkey. Al-Jazari compiled and completed the description of around 100 different types of mechanical devices, and also gave practical instructions on how to construct them. This is illustrated in his book  al-Jāmiʿ bayn al-ʿilm wa al-ʿamal al-nāfiʿ fī ṣināʿat al-ḥiyal (The Book of Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices), which he completed in 1206 CE. It is in this book thatAl-Jazari’s famous “Elephant Clock”, (the features of which has resulted in modern scholars labelling it as the “Clock of Civilisations”), is described and outlined. This clock features mechanical techniques developed from Greek, Egyptian, Indian, Chinese and Muslim cultures.

 
Figure 4: Al-Jazari and "The Book of Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices"(Source)
Figure 5: An image of the "Elephant Clock" taken from Al-Jazari's "Book of Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices"

Dick and Dom began their exciting journey at the majestic Bodleian library at the University of Oxford. With its impressive architectural layout and extensive manuscript deposits, reviewing the illustrious work of Al-Jazari’s Book of Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices seemed to be in a fitting setting. With the expertise of Professor Salim Al-Hassani at hand, Dick and Dom were ready to partake in their adventure on rotary mechanics. From unravelling the mystery of circular motion in tractors, to exploring linear mechanics in robot wars, Dick and Dom did not fail to keep the audience entertained.

After seeing how Al-Jazari’s ideas are still being used today to make machines clever and entertaining, and how his influence can be found in the most impressive robots in the world, Dick and Dom rounded off the show by saluting Al-Jazari as an ‘Absolute Genius’! 

FSTC applauds the efforts that the BBC has taken with this coverage of Al-Jazari and looks forward to programmes of a similar nature being released in the near future. In particular, those which will highlight achievements made by other scientists from this forgotten period such as Al-Biruni, Al-Zahrawi, Ibn al-Haytham, Mimar Sinan, Fatima al-Fehri, Maryam al-Astrulabi and other remarkable scientists from this forgotten period.

 
Figure 6 and 7: How the History of Science is taught and how it should be taught

Dick and Dom’s “Absolute Genius” episode featuring Al-Jazari and Professor Salim Al-Hassani may be viewed by clicking here. Please note that the BBC iPlayer is only available to those living within the UK.

Please consult the following articles for more information about Al-Jazari’s life and extraordinary achievements in science, technology and civilisation:

  Al-Jazari's Third Water-Raising Device: Analysis of its Mathematical and Mechanical Principles
Five pumps or water-raising machines are described by al-Jazari in his monumental treatise of mechanics Al-Jami' bayn al-‘ilm wa 'l-‘amal al-nafi' fi sina'at al-hiyal. The following long article is a detailed study of the third of these water-raising devices.
  Al-Jazari's Castle Water Clock: Analysis of its Components and Functioning
The first machine described by al-Jazari in his famous treatise of mechanics Al-Jami‘ bayn al-‘ilm wa 'l-‘amal al-nafi‘ fi sina‘at al-hiyal is a monumental water clock known as the castle clock. This article presents a careful and precise analysis of its components and mechanical functioning, with the help of several design methods.
   Al-Jazari - the Mechanical Genius
1000 years ago the most famous mechanical engineer of his time was Al-Jazari. Read about his water clocks, washing machines and pumps.
  Overview on al-Jazari and his Mechanical Devices
In this article, Professor Yavuz Unat, a known historian of science from Ankara University, draws a general survey on al-Jazari and his treatise. He describes some of his machines and points out the numerous technological innovations brought about by al-Jazari in their design and physical principles.
  A 800 Years Old Ancestor: Today's Science of Robotics and al-Jazari
Introducing al-Jazari's ancestry to modern cybernetics and robotics science, Prof. Toygar Akman narrates in this testimony article his own discovery of the work of the great 13th century Muslim scholar. He shows further how al-Jazari's mechanical achievements laid the ground to a proto science of robotics avant la lettre.
  The Machines of Al-Jazari and Taqi Al-Din
Through applying modern engineering technology and graphic modelling with computers, we can see the these machines designed and described many centuries ago come to life.
  Automation and Robotics in Muslim Heritage: The Cultural Roots of al-Jazari's Mechanical Systems
This short paper introduces a longer essay by Prof. Gunalan Nadarajan, Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Studies in the College of Arts and Architecture at Penn State University. The essay draws on the work of al-Jazari, the famous 13th century Islamic scholar, engineer and scientist.
  Attempts of Flight, Automatic Machines, Submarines and Rocket Technology in Turkish History
In the Islamic world, great importance was placed upon the study of natural sciences and technology. This article brings out some of the important works of Turkish Muslim scholars in the fields of automatic machines, clocks and rocket technology.
  A Review of Early Muslim Control Engineering
There are recorded contributions of Early Muslims to the area of Automatic Control mainly in the development of water clocks using float valve regulators, different level controls using float valves or syphons and the development of On-Off controls.
  Pioneers of Automatic Control Systems
The article covers the avenues which led to the transfer of the Islamic knowledge, from Al Andalus, Sicily and Byzantium to the Wars (crusades on the Islamic World), as well as commercial relations and also the translation of Arabic works.
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