Banu Musa ibn Shakir

fl. c.850
Arab astronomers and engineers.
The Banu were the three sons of Musa ibn Shakir. His origins were unpromising, for he was a robber, but the caliph al-Ma'mun, a great patron of science and learning, took the sons into his academy and had them educated. The eldest and most prominent, Muhammed, took up the study of geometry, logic and astronomy, while another, al- Hasan, also studied geometry. The third, Ahmad, turned to mechanics. Together, the Banu established a group for the translation of texts from antiquity, especially Greece, on science and mechanics. They were responsible for compiling the Kitab al-Hiyal (Book of Ingenious Devices), the first of two major works on mechanics that appeared in the medieval Islamic world. The authors drew freely from earlier Greek writers, particularly Hero and Philon. The work is a technical manual for making devices such as lamps, pipes in spring wells and drinking vessels, most depending on differences in air pressure generated by the movement of liquids. These principles were applied to make a self-filling oil lamp. The work also demonstrated the lifting of heavy weights by means of pulleys. In another work, the Qarastun (Book of the Balance), the Banu showed how different weights could be balanced by varying the distance from the fulcrum.
Further Reading
Dictionary of Scientific Biography.

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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