(September 5, 973 – December 13, 1048)

Extraordinarily ingenuous, versatile and productive, Abu Rayhan Al-Biruni is among the greatest scientists 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-cum-protégé. But his staples were maths, mechanics and astronomy. About two-thirds of the nearly 150 books he published were on those three subjects. As a polymath, he dazzled 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, Al-Biruni devised ways of using lunar eclipse and longitude to plot the radius of earth. He was among the first scholars to apply the law of sines in solving problems posed by astrophysics. His vast publications, which were estimated to include 12,000 pamphlets, improved Archimedes’ works: by furthering those basic algebra, arithmetic and geometry which support them. 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 sagacious abilities as well as research breadth. Many of these survivors have been translated into several languages. In recognition, the asteroid 9936 Al-Biruni and the lunar impact crater Al-Biruni were named in his honor.

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