(September 5, 973 – December 9, 1048)

Extraordinarily ingenuous, versatile and productive, Abu Rayhan Al-Biruni ranks among the greatest scientists of the Middle Ages. From mathematics to astronomy, and from 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. Almost two-thirds of the 150 pamphlets attributed to him were on those three subjects. And as a polymath, his acumen dazzled in both scientific and artistic arenas: enabling him invent horologic and hydrostatic tools. He also compiled some of the earliest known encyclopedias of astronomy, biology, pharmacology, geology and sociology. 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 astronomical problems. His vast publications, purported to include 12,000 tracts improved Archimedes’ works, by furthering those elementary algebra, arithmetic and geometry which anchor them. Earth sciences, especially geodesy, owe their early developments to him. He even devised tools with which he accurately gauged the specific gravity of metals and minerals. Although a good number of his publications were lost, enough did survive; and they gave clues regarding his sagacity and research breadth. Having been translated into the major languages, many of these survivors are now available in every continent. In recognition for his intellectual contributions, numerous items including: the 77-kilometer-wide Al-Biruni lunar crater and the 9936 Al-Biruni asteroid were named in his honor.


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