The Magic Jar and Other Devices from 9th Century Persia

A Historical and Experimental Study

in Nuncius
Restricted Access
Get Access to Full Text
Rent on DeepDyve

Have an Access Token?



Enter your access token to activate and access content online.

Please login and go to your personal user account to enter your access token.



Help

Have Institutional Access?



Access content through your institution. Any other coaching guidance?



Connect

After the advent of Islam the interest of scientists was drawn towards “ingenious devices.” Ahmad ibn Müsä ibn Shäkir Khuräsäni was one of the greatest Iranian scientists of the 9th century AD. He worked on many mechanical, hydraulic and pneumatic devices and presented his inventions in a book entitled Kitäb Al-Hiyal. A combined historical and experimental research project was undertaken by the Iranian Research Organization for Science and Technology (IROST). One part of the project consisted of designing and reproducing the mechanisms for separating liquids described in Al-Hiyal. This paper provides details of the design of four of these devices, which function on the basis of the relative viscosities or densities of the liquids being separated. They were recreated and tested in accordance with the indications provided in ibn Shäkir Khuräsäni’s text. This paper provides the historical background and a technical analysis of these remarkable inventions.

The Magic Jar and Other Devices from 9th Century Persia

A Historical and Experimental Study

in Nuncius

Sections

References

1

Thomas Hockey et al.Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers (New York: Springer Reference2007) pp. 92–24; and David Pingree Encyclopaedia Iranica Vol. III (London Boston: Routledge & Kegan Paul 1989) pp. 716–717.

9

Tohru Sato“Quadrature of the surface area of a sphere in the early Middle Ages – Johannes de Tinemue and Banü Müsä,” Historia Scientiarum1985 28:9–61.

14

Mark E. RosheimRobot Evolution: The Development of Anthrobotics (New York: Wiley-Interscience1994) pp. 9–10.

16

Bryan BunchThe History of Science and Technology (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Books2004) p. 107.

28

Roshdi Rashed“Archimedean learning in the middle Ages, the Banü Müsä,” Historia Scientiarum1996 6:1–16.

30

Masood EhsadScience and Islam: A History (London: Icon Books Ltd.2009) pp. 161–163.

Figures

  • View in gallery
    Figure 1

    (a) Original diagram from Al-Hiyal; and (b) an exact modern reconstruction of the magic jar. See Ghazany, Al-Hiyal (cit. note 2), p. 299.

  • View in gallery
    Figure 2

    The functioning of the modified liquid-separation device, in which the resting position of the balancing rod is not in perfect equilibrium: (a) the cup when filled with the less dense liquid tilts toward the right-hand cache; (b) the equilibrium point is reached when the cup is partially filled with the denser liquid; (c) the cup tilts toward the left-hand cache when completely filled with the denser liquid.

  • View in gallery
    Figure 3

    The first phase of the liquid separation process in our modified version of Ahmad ibn Müsä’s magic jar.

  • View in gallery
    Figure 4

    (a) Original diagram from Al-Hiyal; and (b) a modern reconstruction of the two-cache liquid separating jar. See Ghazany, Al-Hiyal (cit. note 2), p. 162.

  • View in gallery
    Figure 5

    (a) Original diagram from Al-Hiyal; and (b) a modern reconstruction of the liquid-separating jar with an inside cup. See Ghazany, Al-Hiyal (cit. note 2), p. 149.

  • View in gallery
    Figure 6

    (a) Original diagram from Al-Hiyal; and (b) a modern reconstruction of the liquid-separating jar with two inside cups. See Ghazany, Al-Hiyal (cit. note 2), p. 151.

Index Card

Content Metrics

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 5 5 2
Full Text Views 5 5 5
PDF Downloads 2 2 2
EPUB Downloads 0 0 0