30 January 2008

It's time to herald the Arabic science that prefigured Darwin

and Newton. So says Jim Al-Khalili in today's Guardian. Reeling off a list of neglected Arabic scientific scholars, Prof Khalili notes:
But what surprises many even more is that a ninth-century Iraqi zoologist by the name of al-Jahith developed a rudimentary theory of natural selection a thousand years before Darwin. In his Book of Animals, Jahith speculates on how environmental factors can affect the characteristics of species, forcing them to adapt and then pass on those new traits to future generations.
Some interesting debate in the ensuing comments, too. And some foaming at the mouth.

1 comment:

nunatak said...

It's worth going back to the blog eruption of August 07 sparked by the Guardian's James Randerson's 'top five dead scientists'post.
http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/science/2007/08/top_five_dead_scientists.html

Peter Mc of the short memory covered it here: http://thebeagleproject.blogspot.com/2007/08/top-five-dead-scientists-list-em.html

And in comments I listed Muslim polymath Ibn al-Haytham (965-1039) as one of the top five, in his case for inventing the scientific method. But I wasn't the only one. Lots of other comments to Randerson's original post plus the linked posts around the blogosphere mentioned the contributions of 'non-Western' scientists.