First Scientist: Ibn al-Haytham

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Author       :Bradley Steffens

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Award-winning author Bradley Steffens introduces Ibn al-Haytham in this first full biography ever written about him. Though not a household name as far as the history of science goes, with his major contributions going largely unnoticed and uncredited, Ibn al-Haytham, who lived a thousand years ago, is finally being recognized as the world’s first true scientist.

Centuries before better-known researchers such as Roger Bacon, Leonardo da Vinci, and Galileo Galilei were born, Ibn al-Haytham investigated eyesight and the propagation of light in a profound manner, the likes of which had never before been fully utilized, and documented his findings in his magnum opus Book of Optics. By systematically using experiments to test his hypotheses, Ibn al-Haytham changed the course of human history, giving humankind a new and effective way of establishing facts about the natural world—an approach known today as the scientific method.

Bradley Steffens

Bradley Steffens is a novelist, poet, and award-winning author of more than sixty nonfiction books for young adults. He is a two-time recipient of the San Diego Book Award for Best Young Adult Nonfiction. His Giants won the 2005 award and his People in the News: J.K. Rowling garnered the 2007 prize. J.K. Rowling also received the Theodor S. Geisel Award for the best published book by a San Diego County author in 2007. Steffens’ first novel, The Prisoner of Al-Hakim, based on the life of Ibn al-Haytham, was published by Blue Dome Press in 2017. Physicist, author, and BBC broadcaster Jim Al-Khalili calls The Prisoner of Al-Hakim “a gripping story based on real-life events that is fizzing with adventure and rich in accurate historical and scientific nuggets.”

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Additional information

ISBN

9781682060292

E-book ISBN

9781682065341

Pages

126

Publication Date

08/07/2021

Size (inches)

7.5 x 7.5

Format

Reviews

Award-winning author Bradley Steffens introduces Ibn al-Haytham in this first full biography ever written about him.
Though not a household name as far as the history of science goes, given that his major contributions have gone largely unnoticed and uncredited, Ibn al-Haytham (965-1040) is finally being recognized as the world’s first true scientist.

Centuries before better-known researchers such as Roger Bacon (d.1292), da Vinci (d.1519) and Galileo (d.1642) were even born, Ibn al-Haytham investigated eyesight and the propagation of light in a profound manner, the likes of which had never before been fully utilized. Importantly, he documented his findings in his seven-volume magnum opus “Book of Optics,” written during
1011–1021. By systematically using experiments to test his hypotheses, Ibn al-Haytham changed the course of history by giving humanity a new and effective way of establishing facts about the natural world — an approach known today as the scientific method.
-ISLAMIC HORIZONS SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2021

“Bradley Steffens’s engaging style makes the life and works of one of the greatest scholars in history accessible to the modern audience. It is an excellent introduction to not only a great mind in human history whose discoveries a millennium ago continue to benefit us in the modern world but also the larger field of history of Islamic mathematics and science. Unfortunately, due to the dominance of a Eurocentric narrative of science globally, the contributions to mathematics and sciences from the medieval Islamic civilization are largely ignored and underappreciated. The story of the great scholar Ibn al-Haytham is a striking example of this larger phenomenon. The fascinating story of a remarkable polymath in this captivating book will make you finish it in one sitting and want to keep it nearby for easy reference. Along the way, you will also learn about the Islamic culture and the larger context and issues. First Scientist: Ibn al-Haytham fills a significant void in the literature and the new, updated version is even more attractive and engaging than the original edition. It will be highly appreciated by anyone who is interested in the history of science.”
—Nuh Aydin, Professor of Mathematics, Kenyon College

“This new coffee table edition of Steffens’s biography of Ibn al-Haytham is a thing of beauty, with stunning photographs and illustrations adding to the scholarly yet accessible biographical text. Ibn al-Haytham is rightly regarded as one of the greatest scientists in history and should be a household name everywhere in the world. The fact that he led such a colourful life is a delightful bonus. I will be recommending this book to everyone I know, and even those I don’t.”
—Jim Al-Khalili, author of The House of Wisdom: How Arabic Science Saved Ancient Knowledge and Gave Us the Renaissance

“Ever wondered how we see? Ever wondered how they found out what really happens and how? Anyone interested in the history of science, optics, maths, the scientific method and how it all began should read this fascinating book. It is revelatory, riveting and quite revolutionary. It could change the way you see the world.”
—Brigitte Nerlich, Emeritus Professor of Science, Language and Society, University of Nottingham

“This book is a must read for anyone who wishes to learn about a forgotten chapter in history, enjoys the true spirit of inquiry, and is an eternal seeker of truth. Steffens has a unique ability of a storyteller that makes the reading of his book as interesting as a spy thriller, unfolding the events in Ibn al-Haytham’s life like the clues being discovered by a forensic detective.”
—Husain F. Nagamia, MD, Journal of the Islamic Medical Association of North America

“In this clearly written, carefully reasoned profile, Steffens not only traces the scantly documented life of one of early modern science’s giants, but also places him both within the broader contexts of early Muslim society, and of the whole history of science. The many color pictures enhance this illuminating narrative with maps, diagrams, and images of illustrated manuscript pages.”
—Kirkus Reviews

“Steffens has written a wonderfully clear and concise account of Ibn al-Haytham’s life and work. The quality of the book is excellent. It is wonderfully typeset and contains many full-color illustrations that bring the era and the science to life.”
—Skulls in the Stars

“I congratulate Bradley Steffens for his beautiful work about Ibn al-Haytham and his advancement of experimental science. Steffens goes into great detail about how Ibn al-Haytham performed his research to arrive at his conclusions. Because Ibn al-Haytham established and used the scientific method as we know it today, it becomes apparent why the author calls him the first scientist.”
—Ertan Salik, Assistant Professor of Physics at Cal Poly University, The Fountain

“Like the history of mathematics, the history of science is incomplete without an acknowledgment of early scholars in the Middle East. This clearly written introduction to Ibn al-Haytham, his society, and his contributions does that.”
—Carolyn Phelan, Booklist

“Steffens deftly weaves an overview of Muslim history into this biography. No one can dispute Ibn al-Haytham’s unique contributions to science in both Islam and western culture. Numerous illustrations from Arab and European sources enhance the text. This book would make an excellent supplement to units about world history and the history of science.”
—Pat Sherman, reviewer