By Olivia Sterns for CNN
But in fact,
Along with the first university, and even the toothbrush, it is among surprising Muslim inventions that have shaped the world we live in today.
The origins of these fundamental ideas and objects -- the basis of everything from the bicycle to musical scales -- are the focus of "1001 Inventions," a book celebrating "the forgotten" history of 1,000 years of Muslim heritage.
"There's a hole in our knowledge, we leap frog from the Renaissance to the Greeks," professor Salim al-Hassani, Chairman of the Foundation for Science, Technology and Civilisation, and editor of the book told CNN.
"1001 Inventions" is now an exhibition at
Here Hassani shares his top 10 outstanding Muslim inventions:
Around the year 1,000, the celebrated doctor Al Zahrawi published a 1,500 page
illustrated encyclopedia of surgery that was used in
Now the Western world's drink du jour, coffee was first brewed in
3. Flying machine
Firnas was the first person to make a real attempt to
construct a flying machine and fly," said Hassani.
In the 9th century he designed a winged apparatus, roughly resembling a bird
costume. In his most famous trial near
In 859 a young princess named Fatima al-Firhi
founded the first degree-granting university in
The word algebra comes from the title of a Persian mathematician's famous 9th century treatise "Kitab al-Jabr Wa l-Mugabala" which translates roughly as "The Book of Reasoning and Balancing." Built on the roots of Greek and Hindu systems, the new algebraic order was a unifying system for rational numbers, irrational numbers and geometrical magnitudes. The same mathematician, Al-Khwarizmi, was also the first to introduce the concept of raising a number to a power.
"Many of the most important advances in the study of optics
come from the Muslim world," says Hassani.
Around the year 1000 Ibn al-Haitham proved that humans see
objects by light reflecting off of them and entering the eye, dismissing
Muslim musicians have had a profound impact on Europe, dating back
to Charlemagne tried to compete with the music of
According to Hassani, the Prophet Mohammed popularized the use of the first toothbrush in around 600. Using a twig from the Meswak tree, he cleaned his teeth and freshened his breath. Substances similar to Meswak are used in modern toothpaste.
9. The crank
Many of the basics of modern automatics were first put to use in the Muslim world, including the revolutionary crank-connecting rod system. By converting rotary motion to linear motion, the crank enables the lifting of heavy objects with relative ease. This technology, discovered by Al-Jazari in the 12th century, exploded across the globe, leading to everything from the bicycle to the internal combustion engine.
"Hospitals as we know them today, with wards and teaching
centers, come from 9th century