CAIRO – Discovering a neglected part in the history of mankind, California students visiting “1001 Inventions” exhibition for Islam’s early contributions to science were introduced to the historically missed golden age of Muslim civilization that paved the world to the modern age of renaissance.
"It communicates the multicultural roots of science, and we have a diverse audience," Diane Perlov, the center's vice president of exhibit development, told Venture County Star on Friday, August 12.
"This shows that more than Europeans and Americans invented scientific breakthroughs, and it inspires young people toward these fields."
The “1001 Inventions” exhibition highlights contributions by Muslim scholars to the development of astronomy, math, architecture, medicine and engineering.
It features exhibits spanning Muslim thinkers in different fields of medicine, optics, mathematics, astronomy, higher education, library science, personal hygiene and even the basics of aviation.
It also shows the works of some of history’s finest scientists and scholars who once extended from Spain to China and lightened the world from the seventh century.
Touring different world countries, the exhibition has attracted more than one million over the past year in Turkey and Europe.
Reaching America, it passed by New York before opening its doors at the California Science Center in Los Angeles.
At the entrance of the exhibition, visitors see a 13-minute film starring Ben Kingsley as a librarian who becomes a famed old-world inventor to explain in simple terms what the exhibit entails.
Giving an example of famed Muslim scientists, Kingsley plays the role of Al-Jazari, the author of "Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices," a book written in the early 13th century.
Al-Jazari created the first crankshaft system, which is similar to the kind used in internal combustion engines.
He also made intricate clocks, most notably the Elephant Clock, the first known water clock to accurately tell time.
The exhibition also sheds light on education which played a major role during this period when Fatima al-Fihri contributed by establishing the first university, in Morocco during the mid-800s.
Combining wealth and cultural diversity, the expansive Muslim world, which stretched from Spain to China, managed to achieve breakthroughs in science, math, astrology and medicine."This is a gap in our education, both in the UK and in America," said Maurice Coles, who has worked on a new curriculum to develop resources for schools and colleges that stems from "1001 Inventions."
Skipping those bright moments in the dark ages, the current school curricula missed an important period in the history which contributed to humanity development.
"I don't think it's a conspiracy,” Coles said.
“But it's like we were all taught that nothing happened between ancient Egypt and the Renaissance."
Clarifying Muslims’ contribution to the world, the exhibition is divided into seven main sections, each represented by a multisided kiosk, including home, school, hospital, market, town, world and universe.
Each section gives details of well-known inventions that many people probably don't realize came from the Muslim world.
"I think the school part is my favorite," Perlov said.
"Children really connect to it because it talks about things they know. But I bet none of them know why our numbers look the way they do."
"I'm also amazed by the hospital section. It's incredible that many medical instruments (invented by Al-Zahrawi) are still around today."
The exhibition was recently awarded the "Best Touring Exhibition" of the year at the annual Museums and Heritage Excellence Awards in London, widely considered as the "Oscars" of the Museum world.
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