Title: Muslim polymath: a scholar, inventor, mechanical engineer, craftsman, artist, mathematician and astronomer
Birth: 1136 in Al-Jazira, Mesopotamia
Region: Mesopotamia (Iraq-Syria-border)
Main interests: Mathematics, engineering, astronomy, arts
Notable ideas: 1. Invented an early crankshaft, which he incorporated with a crank-connecting rod mechanism in his twin-cylinder pump. Like the modern crankshaft, Al-Jazari’s mechanism consisted of a wheel setting several pins into motion, with the wheel’s motion being circular and the opins moving back-and-forth in a straight line. The crankshaft described by Al-Jazari transforms continuous rotary motion into a linear reciprocating motion, and is central to modern machinery such as the steam engine, internal combustion engine and automatic control. 2. The camshaft, a shaft to which cams are attached, was first introduced in 1206 by Al-Jazari, who employed them in European mechanism from the 14th century; 3. Hand-washing autmotation with flush mechanism Al-Jazari invented a handwashing automation incorporating a flush mechanism now used in modern flush toilets. It features a female humanoid automation standing by basin filled with water. When the user pulls the lever, the water drains and the female automation refills the basin; 4. In the Book of Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices, he gave intructions of his inventions and illustrated them using miniature paintings, a medieval style of Islamic art.
Works: Kitab fi ma’rifat al-hiyal al-handasiya (Book of Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices) (1206), where he described fifty mechanical devices along with intructions on how to construct them, and Al-Jami’ bayn al-‘ilm wa ‘amal, al-nafi’ fi sina’at al-hiyal (A Compendium on the Theory and Practice of the Mechanical Arts)