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Ottoman science – astronomy and clocks

By |2018-04-25T23:04:52+00:00September 11th, 2017|Science, West Asia|

Taqi al-Din in his observatory Ottoman scholars built many libraries in Istanbul and in other cities of the Ottoman Empire. They translated many earlier books into Turkish or Arabic, like the works of the Roman astronomer Ptolemy. Ottoman scholars also continued to make their own new investigations. The mathematician Ali Qushji, for instance, came [...]

Printing presses in the Ottoman Empire

By |2018-04-25T23:04:51+00:00September 11th, 2017|Literature, West Asia|

Ibrahim Mutafferika's illustration of American bison (1728 AD) One of the great new inventions of Renaissance Europe was the printing press with movable type. But one of the great disadvantages of the Ottoman Empire was that they didn't start using printing presses. They didn't publish books, pamphlets, or newspapers until much later - [...]

Screw – Simple machines – Physics

By |2018-05-31T11:49:15+00:00August 17th, 2017|Physics, What|

A cider press with big wooden screws People always count screws as a separate kind of simple machine. But really screws are just one kind of inclined plane. They are such an important kind that we give them their own category. Like most other simple machines, screws also exist in nature. The hip joints of [...]

Medieval astronomy in Europe

By |2018-04-24T08:21:21+00:00August 4th, 2017|Medieval, Science|

Astrolabe in Hebrew, probably from Spain (1300s AD) In the early Middle Ages, most people in Europe were too poor to have much time for astronomy. But some people were still interested in the stars. Astrologers tried to predict the future. Monks wanted to figure out the right day to celebrate Easter, or the right times for prayers. And a few [...]

Printing spreads around the world

By |2018-04-23T15:45:45+00:00July 27th, 2017|Literature|

Qing dynasty court lady reading a handwritten scroll (probably 1700s AD) Printing with movable type first began in China about 1000 AD. It caught on when European printers combined movable type with the alphabet. By 1500 AD Europeans were printing everything they could think of, from Bibles to ancient Greek philosophy to advertising leaflets and posters. Jewish refugees from Spain brought [...]

Early European inventions

By |2017-06-29T02:47:02+00:00June 29th, 2017|Northern Europe, Science|

For a long time, northern Europe was a scientific backwater: new ideas came from other places to northern Europe, and not the other way around. The earliest people came to northern Europe probably about a million years ago. These were not modern people, but earlier almost-humans. From Africa, they brought with them the knowledge of [...]

Uighurs – Medieval Central Asia

By |2017-05-31T17:37:10+00:00May 31st, 2017|Central Asia, History|

Uighur princesses (Bezelik Cave) When the Turkic Gokturk Empire in Central Asia collapsed in 742 AD, the Uighurs got their independence. Their king, or Khan, Qutlugh Bilge Kol, set up his own smaller empire in what is now Mongolia and Western China, controlling the eastern end of the Silk Road. Qutlugh Bilge Kol's [...]