Over winter break, Joe and I went to see a traveling science exhibit called “1,001 Inventions.” It was a very well crafted and presented interactive show about some of the cool inventions and discoveries made by Muslims during the golden age of the Islamic Caliphate. Lots of good interactive multimedia about algebra, chemistry, astronomy, navigation, medicine, and so on. I watched a video re-enactment of Abbas bin Firnas with his homemade wings and the kernel of this week’s song came of it. As usual, you’ll find it at the bottom of the list under Too Cruel For School.
Interestingly, the people who created the exhibit went out of their way to show that many of the Caliphate’s scientific advances were in fact made by women, Jews, and Christians: the Caliphate was not only more open to discovery than the modern Islamic states, but more open to non-men and non-Muslims as well. I can’t say how much of that message got through to the women there who were seeing the exhibit though the eyeslits of their chadors, but I have to give them credit for bringing their daughters, who were wearing the far more practical hijab that left their hands free to play with the exhibits and showed their faces grinning like fiends and talking about science.