Al-Bîrûnî’s birthday

Abû al-Rayhân Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Bîrûnî was born near Kath in the region of Khwârazm (now Kara-Kalpakskaya) in September 4, 973, and was died in Gbazna(?) after 1050. He lived in Kath and in Jurjanîyya and we know that he began his studies under Abû Nasr Mansûr (970-1036). He became a good mathematician and astronomer very fast and he measured the latitude of Kath observing the maximum altitude of the Sun when he was only 17 y.o. He also wrote some astronomical and mathematical works before 995 as we can check in his  Cartography (a book about map projections).

About 995, al-Bîrûnî left the civil war in Khwârazm and moved to Rayy (now near Tehran) where he lived in poverty. We know that he worked with al-Khujandî who had a large sextant with which he had determined the obliquity of the ecliptic.

Through the observational data registered by him we know that he spent some days in Rayy and that he was back in his birthplace in 1004. That year he became protected by the rulers of the region and he got enough money to build an instrument at Jurjanîyya to observe solar meridian transits. He made observations with it in 1016 and one year later he and Abû Nasr Mansûr were made prisoners by Mahmûd, the new ruler of Khwârazm. Al-Bîrûnî continued working as astronomer but he had a lot of problems with victorious Mahmûd. However, between 1018 and 1020 he made observations from Ghazna supported by Mahmûd and this work allowed him to determinate the latitude of the place.

Al-Bîrûnî travelled to India together with Mahmûd’s military expedition and he spent at least five years working on his India, in which he computed latitudes of cities and explained calendars, geography, literature…

After Mahmud’s death, the next rulers allow al-Bîrûnî to be free to travel and work in his interests and he became the most prolific Arabic mathematician in the World. He produced 146 works with more than 13.000 pages!

Russian stamp (1973)

So, al-Bîrûnî’s doodle published two years ago in the Arabic countries is a very good example of a great scientific contribution!


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