Many people don’t really know about the Middle Ages, and many even refer to it as the Dark Ages, although it wasn’t very dark. Many have the thought there was only death, disease, and war, but we shouldn’t focus on only the bad side because there was also a very positive side in this era, hence the name, the Golden Age. Many great things happened in this era, especially for Muslims. But I am going to be focusing more on the Muslim inventions rather than the era itself.
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Camera Obscura ~ Ibn Al-Haytham
Ibn Al-Haytham was a scientific thinker who made important contributions to the understanding of vision, optics, and light. To explore the nature of light and vision, Ibn Al-Haytham used a dark chamber, which in Latin is called Camera Obscura – the device that forms the foundation of photography. He noticed that light coming through a tiny hole traveled in straight lines and projected an upside down image of whatever was outside onto the opposite wall (which is what camera obscura is). In other words, he found a way to project an image onto another surface. From then on, the camera obscura has helped us have a better understanding of vision and plays a big role in the creation of the lenses and cameras we use today.
The Flying Machine ~ Abbas ibn Firnas
Abbas ibn Firnas had a strong belief that humans will be able to fly. So, he came up with the idea of the flying machine, which looked kind of like a hang glider. Abbas made the frame out of bamboo sticks because they were hallow like the bones in a bird’s wings. Silk was used as the fabric covering of wings. Then, he covered the wings and his clothes with eagle feathers. Abbas ibn Firnas also created a harness system where he could be suspended under the flying machine and control the wing movements with handles attached to the wings. He took off from a hill and stayed in the air for a while which indicates that the flying machine had good gliding capabilities. However, when he was landing, he damaged the wings and injured his back because the flying machine had no tail, which is used for landing. So, Abbas ibn Firnas’ developments contributed much to the success of the Wright Brothers flying machine, which also has a great impact on us today.
Surgical Instruments ~ Abul Qasim Al-Zahrawi
Abul Qasim al-Zahrawi, also known as the Father of Surgery, was one of the greatest surgeons of his time. Abul Qasim insisted on seeing patients regardless of their financial status, by seeing a wide variety of patients every day and recording his treatment of them, he left behind a very valuable text of medical knowledge that he called al-Tasrif. He also was one of the first to use many surgical tools. The Catgut was one of them, which was used as the thread for internal stitches. It’s a thread made from the lining of the intestines of animals. He also used concealed knifes to cut into patients without making them apprehensive and used both local and oral anesthesia in order to reduce the pain patients experienced during surgery. He also was the first to perform many surgeries such as mastectomy, removing a woman’s breast if she had breast cancer, a procedure still done today. Abul Qasim’s abilities and his consistent recording of procedures helped advance medicine for centuries, and it is clear that we still use many of the tools and techniques until now.