Math and Science Week!
"From the last years of the 15th century onward, Venetian publishers printed Muslim treatises on medicine, philosophy, astronomy and mathematics," explains Giandomenico Romanelli, the director of the city’s Correr Museum, an extensive repository of art, ceramics, maps and manuscripts. Elaborately tooled leather bookbindings made in Venice were modeled after those of Istanbul, Tabriz and elsewhere in the Muslim world, he notes. In publishing, trade, diplomatic relations and pilgrimages, "Venice was the hinge between East and West," says Romanelli.
During the Middle Ages, Venice served as a gateway to the West for not only luxury imported goods, but advances in medicine, science, and technology from the Islamic world, including Asia, the Middle East, and Northern Africa. Many Muslim manuscripts were copied and distributed throughout Western and Northern Europe that had originated at the hand of scribes like the one pictured above.
People from those regions would have been quite common in Italy and surrounding areas, and this is supported by art historical evidence:
What is perhaps most remarkable is the Venetian painters’ intimate knowledge of Near Eastern costume. During his visit to Constantinople in 1479–81, Gentile Bellini made portraits of Sultan Mehmet II and figure studies of local men and women from different social groups, including soldiers and scribes; in each instance, he painstakingly described their costumes.
He and his pupils later drew on his studies in their paintings, which accounts for their strikingly detailed representations of Ottoman turbans and dress. Later, the Bellini protégés Vittore Carpaccio and Giovanni Mansueti became veritable experts in Mamluk dress and its decorum, most likely as a direct result of increased Mamluk-Venetian diplomatic relations at the end of the fifteenth and beginning of the sixteenth century.
Math and Science Week!
Tidbits from my Math and Science Week Reading
Since it’s medievalpoc’s math and science week, I thought I’d read up on some underappreciated math and science. As a chemist who spent some of undergrad on medieval history, I had “always known” that a lot of the cool intellectual stuff in my favorite time periods was taking place outside of Europe. However for reasons that I will charitably call not valid, these great things have not been emphasized enough. So I looked to see what was available in MIT’s library, and here’s what I checked out.
Since I don’t have time to go over the books in detail I thought I’d provide a couple of the tidbits that jumped out at me. I apologize for subjecting these people’s hard work to the grad school skim. Any errors are likely from my attempts to quickly extract talking points, rather than the material itself. I encourage anyone who can get access to look into this great stuff.
Science and Technology in African History with Case Studies from Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe, and Zambia
Editor: Gloria Thomas-Emeagwali
- Nigerian traditional medicine includes some associations of doctors who follow rules that are similar to the western Hippocratic Oath.
- The Borno kingdom was an important mathematics and science learning center in pre-colonial Central Sudan, but there is a tendency to dismiss its contributions as “mysticism” because of debates, at the time and later, about what constituted appropriate topics for study.
- Pre-colonial Zimbabwe had sophisticated gold mines and gold mining technology. This industry declined after the 16th century, possibly due to exhaustion of resources or political destabilization.
Warriors of the Cloisters
Christopher I. Beckwirth
- This book is a historical discussion of how recursive argument structure was passed around, modified, and expanded on by different medieval cultures. In particular the author argues that Central Asian Buddhists influenced Classical Arabs, who in turn influenced the development of Medieval Latin scholarship. This is, the author argues, a much more believable version of what actually happened then the “usual argument (which) forces us to imagine medieval Western Europeans saying to themselves triumphantly, ‘We see that the Muslims have the recursive argument method and the college, but we shall not copy them! We shall brilliantly invent precisely the same complex cultural constructs all by ourselves! It will be pure coincidence!’”
- The recursive argument structure (formal recursion, numbered listed of subarguments) shows up in classical Arabic works prior to any appearance in Medieval Latin works (and was absent from Ancient Greek or Latin text).
- The first college in Western Europe was founded by a merchant who had just returned “from Jerusalem.”
- As a side note: there is a really interesting discussion in here about the terms college and university and what was meant by translations of each at different points in history, for those who are interested in such things.
- There is a chapter devoted to various Central Asian examples of the recursive argument structure. The earliest example given is the Astagrantha.
- The first person to use the recursive method in Arabic, Avicenna, mentions in his autobiography that he learned his methods of posing questions and raising objections from a grocer who used Indian mathematics.
The House of Wisdom: How Arabic Science Saved Ancient Knowledge and Gave us the Renaissance
- This book has a whole glossary of wonderful Islamic Empire intellectuals. For example…
- Ibn Sahl: discovered the law of refraction.
- al- Samaw’al: Wrote his first treatise on algebra at age 19.
- Al-Fārisi: Explained the rainbow.
- Al-Kāshi: Cosine Rule.
- Ibn Zakariyya al-Rāzi: Made one of the first attempts to classify the chemical elements. Also did one of the first clinical trials.
Ancient China’s Technology and Science
Compiled by the Institute of the History of Natural Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences
- The Chinese scientist Mo Zi was doing pinhole optics experiments 2500 years ago!
- As of the Ming Dynasty, there was experimentation around crossbreeding silkworms
- Lacquer (light coating that resists corrosion) has been produced and improved on in China since it was invented about 4,000 years ago.
- And they were also doing acoustics, alchemy, calendars,paper-making, mathematics, navigation, shipbuilding, metallurgy, earthquake detection, medicine, map-making, porcelain, surgery, mathematics…
So in conclusion, anyone who claims white Europeans were the only ones doing good science or math at any time is either mistaken or lying.
Math and Science Week!
aseantoo submitted to medievalpoc:
Tan Yunxian / 谈允贤
I noticed we haven’t featured a lot of medieval POC women in science, so here’s one.
Tan Yunxian (1461–1554) was a doctor in Ming Dynasty China. She came from a family of physicians, specialised in gynecology, and lived to the age of 93.
She’s unusual in that she left behind a book, titled Sayings of A Woman Doctor / 女医杂言. It’s made up of 31 case studies - "habitual abortion, menstrual disorders, postpartum diseases, and abdominal lumps" - which she treated using traditional techniques such as moxibustion.
I couldn’t find any portraits of Tan Yunxian, but there’s currently a TV drama being made inspired by her life, called The Imperial Doctress / 女医·明妃传. I’m sure it’s going to be wildly inaccurate, but at least it’ll remind folks that women’s history in old China wasn’t just about bound feet.
Math and Science Week!
This submission is for Science Week I did a project at the physics library where I work. I found quotes from people in physics or that related to math or science in some way, and printed and posted them at the ends of the shelves. Included here are the ones that were from PoC.
(Shout-out to MedievalPoC for inspiring me to go about this project with an eye to finding PoC, because otherwise I doubt I would have found more than one or two.)
CHIEN-SHUNG WU 1912-1997
Provided the first experimental proof (1956) that parity is not conserved in weak subatomic interactions of nuclear beta decay.
"There is only one thing worse than coming home from the lab to a sink full of dirty dishes, and that is not going to the lab at all!"
JOHN MICHELL 1724 - 1793
John Michell, an English country parson, first published his concept of a dark star in 1783. Michell’s dark star had a gravity so strong that light could not escape it – essentially, he was the first person to propose the existence of black holes. Although no portraits of Michell are known to exist, he was described as “a little short man, of black complexion, and fat.”
MedievalPoC’s post on John Michell has additional links
APRILLE ERICSSON 1963 –
First African-American woman to earn a PhD in mechanical engineering.
“I feel obligated to help spur the interest of minorities and females in the math, science and engineering disciplines; without diversity in all fields, the United States will not remain technically competitive.”
SUBRAHMANYAN CHANDRASEKHAR 1910 -1995
Shared the 1983 Nobel Prize for Physics for his mathematical theory of black holes.
“Indeed, I would feel that an appreciation of the arts in a conscious, disciplined way might help one to do science better.”
MAE JEMISON 1956 –
Physician and first African-American woman astronaut.
“Don’t let anyone rob you of your imagination, your creativity, or your curiosity. It’s your place in the world; it’s your life. Go on and do all you can with it, and make it the life you want to live.”
DAVID BLACKWELL 1919 – 2010
The first African American inducted into the National Academy of Sciences.
“I like understanding things and explaining them, and sometimes when you’re trying to understand something, you see something new, and they call that research.”
SATYENDRA NATH BOSE 1894 – 1974
Bosons are named after this Indian physicist.
“Respected Sir, I have ventured to send you the accompanying article for your perusal and opinion. I am anxious to know what you think of it… If you think the paper worth publication I shall be grateful if you arrange for its publication in Zeitschrift für Physik.”
–excerpt from a letter to Einstein
I want to point out that Gabe Jones had completed at least three semesters of college (and probably more) before he ended up running around Europe blowing things up with a guy in spangly tights.
Dum Dum: I didn’t know you spoke German.
Gabe: Two semesters at Howards before I switched to French because the girls were cuter.
Gabe Jones is pretty damn awesome.* I dug up some stats so we can appreciate how awesome.
- 2% of white people age 14 and older in the USA were illiterate. For POC ("Black and other") it was 11.5%
- 13% of white men age 25 and older had completed high school. For men of color of the same age (“Black and other races”) it was 3.8%.
- 5.3% percent of white men age 25 and older had completed at least one year of college. For men of color of the same age it was 1.7%.
In other words, Gabe had the deck stacked against him in a serious way, but he is a smartypants and he is tenacious and he slogged through a lot of crap to get to where he wanted to be. He needs more appreciation.
*Of course, we knew that already, but there’s no such thing as too much Gabe Jones love.
Math and Science Week!
aseantoo submitted to medievalpoc:
Al-Jazari, (1136–1206) Medieval Turkish robot-maker!
Pictured above is his famous Elephant Clock.
His Musical Robot Band. [x]
His Wine-Pouring Machine.
His Castle Clock.
His Hand-Washing Automaton With Flush Mechanism.
His… uh… Table Device? I have no idea what this was for, actually.
Why there isn’t an entire genre of steampunk inspired by this guy, I have no idea.
Although I have to point out that there was a piece of speculative science fiction called The Blazing World published by one Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1666, slightly predating Mary Shelley.
This is the thing. Women have been doing awesome shit since there was awesome shit to do, we’ve BEEN THERE, if anyone bothered to look.
Oh, they looked. And then maliciously and willfully erased us from the books to keep anyone else from “getting ideas.”
Hell, the first named author in history? Enheduanna, a Sumerian high priestess, poet and lyricist. She’s known as the Shakespeare of Sumerian literature.
The first American mystery novel was written by Metta Victoria Fuller Victor, as well as the first dime novel, and the first crime novel..
Honoring Choctaw Code Talkers, WWI
America’s Original Code Talkers.
In 1918, not yet citizens of the U.S., Choctaw members of the American Expeditionary Forces were asked to use their Native language as a powerful tool against the German …Forces in World War I, setting a precedent for code talking as an effective military weapon and establishing them as America’s original Code Talkers.
“US of A, you did everything you could with your ‘kill the Indian, save the man’ policies to erase all Native languages. But of course you found convenient to use Native Code Talkers and their language which have played a critical role in winning the wars…
Did you ever protect those Native Warriors or did you only protect the Code at whatever Cost necessary??? For your grandeur…for your fame…” —Adrien
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Did they ever reveal how Captain America was thawed? Because I’m picturing a bunch of Shield agents with hair dryers and I don’t think that’s quite right.I don’t think they’d want to microwave him so hair dryer is really the only remaining option. That’s how I’d do it.badscienceshenanigansDo you have a sciency way to accomplish this task?
Well, let’s see.
To thaw a 1.5 metric ton colossal squid frozen in a block of ice (the only way the fishermen who trawled the thing in could bring it home before it went bad), scientists put it in a big vat of brine just above 0 Celsius/32F. That allowed the fresh water to melt while still keeping the squid as cold as possible. Essential, since for a giant corpse with tentacles, certain parts are bound to thaw days before others and could become quite rotten before the rest comes out of the ice block if you’re not careful.
HOWEVER Captain America was still alive, which complicates things. On the other hand, even supersoldiers are significantly smaller than this record-setting colossal squid. This helps thaw logistics somewhat.
Much like the squid, Captain America would have to be kept at a consistent temperature throughout his body in order to be thawed successfully. If his extremities were to thaw more than a minute or two before his heart and lungs were thawed and reactivated, the tissue wouldn’t have any oxygen and would quickly die. What a shame to bring back Steve Rogers only to have him be the poster boy for gangrene. Brain tissue becoming metabolically active before the cardiovascular system began functioning would be even more disastrous— possible permanent brain damage.
And the GH-325 project was born
To keep his temperature as equal as possible across his entire body, something like the squid brine or (more likely) an antifreeze solution would be used. Immerse the Capsicle in brine until the entire unit is within a degree or two of thawing* to begin Phase II.
*Note that due to presence of salts, fats, protein, etc, the freezing point of meat is actually 28-29F. Apologies to non-US readers, sadly I only work with American meat and don’t know the freezing point of corpses/beef in Sane Country Units. That being said, Steve Rogers is 100% American meat. Fahrenheit shall be considered the appropriate unit for this project.
At the thawing point, it’s important to consider life support functions. I don’t know how fast human tissue uses up oxygen at refrigerator-range temperatures, but I’m going to assume that the sooner you have oxygen circulating the better. A heart-lung machine would be needed to oxygenate and move the blood around for a while before the heart gets started back up.
Meanwhile, because Captain America’s last un-frozen moments were spent deep underwater, there may be decompression issues at play. Whatever gas bubbles may have been present in his tissue are currently frozen in place, but when he thaws they can move about and create embolisms —> the bends. Better put him in a hyperbaric chamber just in case.
Since Captain America regained consciousness in a recovery room rather than during the thaw process, it may be safe to assume that he was sedated and/or placed in a drug-induced coma during thaw.
So at this point we’ve got a giant bathtub of brine, a heart-lung machine, oxygen canisters, lots of drugs, plus all the necessary monitoring equipment all inside a hyperbaric chamber. After thawing the antifreeze bath could be replaced with gradually warming water or saline solution in order to bring Captain America back up to normal body temperature. So many machines! This is US medicine at its finest.
Forced warm air blowers (hairdryers) are needed after Captain America is fully thawed, organ systems are reactivated, and he is brought back to normal body temperature. At this point it becomes necessary to dry and style Captain America and put him in period-appropriate jammies to sleep it off in a vintage hospital room. If you think hearing the wrong baseball game tipped him off fast, you should see him wake up with bad hair.
THIS IS THE BEST POST IN THE HISTORY OF EVERYTHING.
That being said, Steve Rogers is 100% American meat. Fahrenheit shall be considered the appropriate unit for this project.
CANNOT STOP LAUGHING.
THANK YOU SCIENCE