Yaqub Ibni Ishaq Al-Kindi (800-873 C.E.) (Part-3)

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Perhaps al-Kindi's own words give the best indication of what he attempted to do in all his work. In the introduction to one of his books he wrote (see for example [1]): It is good ... that we endeavour in this book, as is our habit in all subjects, to recall that concerning which the Ancients have said everything in the past, that is the easiest and shortest to adopt for those who follow them, and to go further in those areas where they have not said everything ...

Certainly al-Kindi tried hard to follow this path. For example in his work on optics he is critical of a Greek description by Anthemius of how a mirror was used to set a ship on fire during  a battle. Al-Kindi adopts a more scientific approach (see for example [1]): Anthemius should not have accepted information without proof ... He tells us how to construct a mirror from which twenty-four rays are reflected on a single point, without showing how to establish the point where the rays unite at a given distance from the middle of the mirror's surface. We, on the other hand, have described this with as much evidence as our ability permits, furnishing what was missing, for he has not mentioned a definite distance.

Much of al-Kindi's work remains to be studied closely or has only recently been subjected to scholarly research. For example al-Kindi's commentary on Archimedes' The measurement of the circle has only received careful attention as recently as the 1993 publication [10] by Rashed.

In chemistry, he opposed the idea that base metals can be converted to precious metals. In contrast to prevailing alchemical views, he was emphatic that chemical reactions cannot bring about the transformation of elements. In physics, he made rich contributions to geometrical optics and wrote a book on it. This book later on provided guidance and inspiration to such eminent scientists as Roger Bacon.

In medicine, his chief contribution comprises the fact that he was the first to systematically determine the doses to be adminis- tered of all the drugs known at his time. This resolved the conflic- ting views prevailing among physicians on the dosage that caused difficulties in writing recipes.

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