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Science in Islamic Africa

By | 2017-10-14T14:23:56+00:00 October 3rd, 2017|Africa, Science|

The walls of Timbuktu, in Mali, West Africa In the 700s AD, the Islamic Empire conquered North Africa and began to trade a lot with East Africa. Islamic government did not allow women to work in science or medicine. But there were a lot of men in North Africa and East Africa, and in the area around Timbuktu, who worked as scientists and [...]

African map project – al Idrisi and Ptolemy’s maps

By | 2017-10-03T11:17:30+00:00 October 3rd, 2017|Africa, Science|

Al-Idrisi's map of the world (1100s AD) Check out this copy of al-Idrisi's map of the world, created in the 1100s AD. Can you find the Black Sea? The Caspian Sea? The Mediterranean Sea? Where is China on this map? Where is Spain? A copy of Ptolemy's map of the world How is al-Idrisi's map different from Ptolemy's map of [...]

Ships and sailing in ancient Africa – early boats

By | 2017-10-03T10:35:56+00:00 October 3rd, 2017|Africa, Economy, Science|

A person in a boat (Barramiya, Upper Egypt, ca. 4000 BC) African sailing has a long history. People were probably using boats before the first people left Africa. At Blombos Cave in South Africa, people were fishing about 70,000 BC, and by the time people got to Southeast Asia about 40,000 BC they certainly had [...]

American science after colonization

By | 2017-09-28T11:27:37+00:00 September 28th, 2017|Americas, Native American, North America, Science|

European trade goods (thanks to Nebraska Game and Parks Division) North American people made rapid scientific advances in the course of the 1500s AD, inspired by contacts with traders and explorers from Europe. People learned how to tame horses and ride them, and they learned how to use guns. They also began to use a [...]

Pythagorean Theorem proof

By | 2017-09-25T10:25:04+00:00 September 25th, 2017|Greeks, Math|

A right triangle. This is the proof of the Pythagorean Theorem supposedly written by Pythagoras about 500 BC: The Pythagorean Theorem says that in a right triangle, the sum of the squares of the two right-angle sides will always be the same as the square of the hypotenuse (the long side). A2 + B2 = C2. Try it yourself: if Side [...]

What are snakes? Evolution and biology

By | 2017-10-05T09:50:11+00:00 September 16th, 2017|Biology|

Two pythons Snakes evolved from lizards only about 150 million years ago, during the Jurassic Period. This is during the time of the dinosaurs, about the same time that the first birds evolved from small dinosaurs. Like birds and mammals, though, snakes really began to take over after most of the dinosaurs died about 95 million years ago, at [...]

West Asian sewage – Mesopotamia and Iran

By | 2017-09-16T12:48:38+00:00 September 16th, 2017|Science, West Asia|

A sewer from ancient Urartu (800s BC, now in eastern Turkey) As early as 800 BC, people in West Asia were digging ditches that led from their houses through the city streets to rivers to carry away their waste and drain off stormwater that flooded the streets when it rained (There were much earlier sewage drains in Harappan [...]

West Asian numbers – Ancient Mesopotamia

By | 2017-09-16T12:39:12+00:00 September 16th, 2017|Science, West Asia|

Neolithic counting tokens The earliest way of writing down numbers was to carve notches in tally sticks, and this method spread from Africa all over Europe and Asia. But by about 9000 BC, people in West Asia began to use a different method of counting. Instead of tally sticks, people made clay tokens in different shapes. The shapes meant different [...]

Babylonian math problem – West Asian science

By | 2017-09-16T12:10:30+00:00 September 16th, 2017|Science, West Asia|

A real Babylonian math problem on a clay tablet This is a real math problem assigned to Babylonian kids in Iraq about 1900 BC. See if you can do it! Here's the problem: Suppose you have two equilateral triangles, one inside the other. Can you figure out the area of the space between the two triangles? [...]

West Asian mathematics – history of math

By | 2017-09-16T12:05:41+00:00 September 16th, 2017|Science, West Asia|

Sumerian multiplication table (2700 BC) Once people in West Asia figured out how to write down numbers, about 3500 BC, they quickly began to want to use cuneiform to write down other mathematical ideas. The earliest example of this that we have is from about 2700 BC. It shows a multiplication table to help people figure out the area of a space by multiplying width [...]