(September 5, 973 – December 13, 1048)

Abu Rayhan Al-Biruni is one of the greatest scholars of the Middle Ages. From mathematics to astronomy, philosophy to linguistics, he left his footprints in the intellectual sands of time. His exploration of medicine and pharmacy complemented those of Avicenna: his Persian contemporary. But his staples were maths and astronomy. About two-thirds of the nearly 150 books he published were on those two subjects. As a polymath, Al-Biruni loved to play in both scientific and non-scientific arenas. Needless to stress that his performances were magnificent! He invented horologic and hydrostatic tools, and also compiled some of the earliest known encyclopedias of astronomy, medicine, biology and geology. In astronomy, he devised ways of using lunar eclipse and longitude to accurately plot the radius of earth. He was among the first scholars to use the mathematical law of sines in solving problems posed by astrophysics. His vast publications, which are estimated to include around 12,000 pamphlets, helped improve the works of Archimedes: as they advanced the various fields of algebra, arithmetic and geometry. Earth sciences, especially geodesy, owe their early developments to him. He even devised tools with which it was possible to accurately measure the specific gravity of various metals and minerals. Although some of his treatises were lost, enough did survive; and they were able to give clues regarding his abilities as well as research breadth. Many of these survivors have been translated to several languages. In recognition, the asteroid 9936 Al-Biruni and the lunar crater Al-Biruni were named after him.


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