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Al-Beruni – the overman


“If the Earth were not round and spinning, 

days and nights would be the same length” (Al-Beruni)

Everyone knows how long and painfully the science has gone to the irrefutable truth about the shape of the Earth and its rotation around the Sun. Giordano Bruno, Galileo Galilei tried to prove their point “And yet it moves”. Somebody was not believed and was given to the Inquisition, someone even after a round-the-world trip was subjected to doubts and criticism. However, in another part of the world, 500 years earlier, the medieval encyclopedic scientist Al-Beruni was able to calculate the radius of the Earth, mathematically proving that the Earth rotates and has a round shape.

Abu Reikhan Muhammad ibn Ahmed al- Beruni, a great scientist, poet and philosopher, was able to master almost all the sciences of his time. His interests extended to such sciences as astronomy and geography, mathematics and physics, chemistry and botany, geodesy and pharmacology, geology and mineralogy, history and ethnography, philosophy and philology. In addition, al-Beruni knew more than six languages, including Persian, Khorezmian, Jewish, Arabic, Greek, Syriac, and Sanskrit. He was fluent in Arabic and Persian writing. Such person as al-Beruni, Friedrich Nietzsche called the overman. The fate of the scientist is very interesting and unusual, like many geniuses.

Al-Beruni was born on October 4, 973 in the city of Kyat, the capital of Khorezm. In his autobiography, al-Beruni admitted that he did not remember his parents and considered himself an orphan. Al-Beruni spent the first years of his life in a foster family, where the young scientist of that time, Abu Nasr Mansur ibn Ali ibn Iraq, drew attention to the child prodigy and undertook to teach Beruni. Ali ibn Iraq instilled in Beruni a love for the natural sciences, the main of which he found astronomy and mathematics.

Having received a comprehensive home education, the young scientist took up independent observations and calculations. Already in 995, he made the first globe in Central Asia, which indicated the geographical coordinates of settlements with unprecedented accuracy for that time.

For some time Beruni lived in the city of Gurgan, on the eastern shore of the Caspian Sea. There, he hoped to find the necessary conditions for the development of scientific activity. There he wrote the work “Chronology, or monuments of past generations” and described all the calendars ever used by various peoples of the world. In Gurgan, his second book “The Sphere or the keys to the astronomy about what is happening on the surface of a sphere” was written.

“Every nation has distinguished itself in the development of a science or practice”

In 1004, Al-Beruni returned to Khorezm and settled in the new capital Urgench. Al-Beruni took an active part in scientific activity and founding a special scientific academy. Abu Ali ibn Sina (Avicenna) and the founder of algebra al-Khwarizmi also worked there. At the end of 1017, Sultan Mahmud Gaznevi captured Khorezm. He destroyed the whole country, and captured the scientist. Soon, Mahmud Gaznevi decided to go on a campaign in India and took al-Beruni with he was an educated person.

In India, al-Beruni continued to engage in science, including mineralogy. From the stones, he determined what deposits was underground. After the death of the cruel sultan, the scientist was able to conduct scientific work more productive. Then he put forward several hypotheses about the motion of the Earth around the Sun, about the mobility of stars, and about the existence of other continents.

Brilliant scientists wrote more than 150 works, but only five of them reached us. Al-Beruni estimated the distance to the Moon as 664 Earth radii, compiled a catalog of 1029 stars, the positions of which were recalculated from earlier Arab zijas – and this is far from all the achievements of this overman.

“I do not need silver! I have the highest wealth – knowledge. In addition, in fact, why do I need wealth? I am already rich. The wealth is in knowledge!”

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