Thursday, December 08, 2005

L'Âge D'Or des Sciences Arabes

I went to an exhibition at the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris called "The Golden Age: The Arab Sciences." It spanned the era from the 9th through around the 15th century, and was divided into several sections: Mathematics, Astronomy, Geography, Astrology, Medicine, Pharmacology, Engineering, Architecture, etc. As most of my readers probably know, during this era science in the west was mostly stagnant, and the scientific knowledge that came from the Greeks (and Indians, and others) was preserved and advanced in the Arab world during that period. I'm a sucker for old manuscripts, and Arabic manuscripts can be particularly beautiful. I especially liked the ones on astronomy, which had lots of intricate drawings with different colored inks. Photos were forbidden inside the exhibit, but the building which houses the institute is very cool--the south facing wall is all glass windows, with the inside of each covered with these mechanical irises that open and close with the light, and also reflect Arabic/Islamic design themes. The building is even more striking because it's next to some of the ugliest architecture in Paris, the University of Paris Jussieu campus.

ObFood: afterwards I was really cold and hungry and had a fairly generic steak-frites at a brasserie nearby.