By Margaret Harris
One of the highlights on physicsworld.com last week was an online lecture by the University of Surrey physicist and science communicator Jim Al-Khalili, who spoke on the subject of his recent book Pathfinders: the Golden Age of Arabic Science.
If you missed the live version of Al-Khalili’s lecture “On the shoulders of eastern giants: the forgotten contributions of medieval physicists”, you can watch an archived version of the hour-long event here. Be sure to stay all the way to the end, when Al-Khalili tackles some probing questions from audience members – including one asking why these physicists’ contributions have been forgotten in the West, and another wondering why science declined in the Arabic-speaking world after the medieval period.
As usual with these question-and-answer sessions, we ran out of time long before you ran out of questions. On this occasion, several of the ones we couldn’t fit in were so interesting that we asked Al-Khalili to send us written answers so we could share them with you. Below are his replies.