Saturday, January 28, 2023

Father of “World Robotics”, Al-Jazari

You must be familiar with the pendulum clock, a large semi-automatic clock that uses a pendulum as its engine mover. If you judge that the clock that was discovered in 1656 by Christiaan Huygens was quite sophisticated for its time, then you would be amazed at the discovery of Al-Jazari 5 centuries earlier.

The series of discoveries is diverse. Starting from a robot waiter that can serve drinks automatically, an automatic sink in the shape of a peacock, to a group of robotic musicians who can entertain royal guests. But his most famous invention is the elephant clock.Al-Jazari can be regarded as one of the pioneers of the invention of robots. As chief engineer at the Artuklu Palace, Turkey, in the 11th and 12th centuries, Al-Jazari created various highly advanced automatic tools for his time. In addition, he was one of the first inventors to combine technology and aesthetics, because many of his inventions were not only beyond his time, but also beautiful, with ornaments that were closely related to the life of the Turkish people at that time, such as snakes, elephants, birds. peacocks, and statues of people in robes and turbans.

This is how the 7 meter high clock works in the form of an elephant, ridden by 2 men complete with a stage and two snakes. According to Ibn Battuta’s records, the mechanism is located inside the elephant’s body, where there is a large water tank. In the tank, there is a hollow container that sinks at a certain speed. The case is connected by a string and a crane system that moves the timepiece at the top of the clock.

When the container is full of water, the container will sink to the bottom of the tank, and attract a ball at the top of the clock. The orb will activate the phoenix at the peak of the hour, and fall out of the beak of one of the eagles into the mouth of one of the two snakes. The snake will rotate on its axis due to the weight of the ball. This movement has two purposes.

First, a string will be pulled and lift the container from the bottom of the tank and reset the position of the container. As well as second the ball fell from the snake’s mouth into the vessel behind the statue of the man about to hit the cymbal, signalling that 30 minutes had passed.

Not only elephant clock, Al-Jazari created two other clocks. A candle clock, which according to British historian Donald R. Hill is the most sophisticated candle clock to date, as well as a palace-shaped astronomical clock, which is the most sophisticated water-fuelled astronomical clock ever made, is even called the first analogue computer that can programmed.

The palace clock, which is the largest clock ever made by Al-Jazari, can show the movement of the stars, sun, and moon. A crescent-shaped pointer, showing the minutes, moved at the gate, led by a hidden carriage that would open a door and issue a mannequin every hour.

Born with the name Badi’ al-Zaman Abu-‘l-‘Izz Ibn Isma’il Ibn al-Razzaz al-Jazari, Al-Jazari got the nickname from his homeland, Al-Jazirah, an area located between the Tigris and the Euphrates, which is better known as Mesopotamia. Al-Jazari followed in his father’s footsteps to serve the Sultan of the Artuqid dynasty for decades in Diyar-Bakir which is now in Turkey.

In 1206, he completed a book on mechanical engineering entitled Al-Jami’ bayn al-‘ilm wa-‘l-‘amal al-nafi’ fi sinat’at al-hiyal which means “The Knowledge Book of Genius Geometric Inventions” contains a collection of theory and practice mechanisms. George Sarton, author Introduction to the History of Science in 1927 called the book “the most detailed reference material of its kind and can be called the climax in the achievements of Muslim (scientists) in their field.”

Al-Jazari’s book differs from similar books in practical terms because the author is an expert on mechanics and a skilled craftsman. The book describes various tools in great detail, making them an invaluable contribution to the history of mechanics.

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