Abbas Ibn Firnas
Andalusian scholar and inventor of crystal.
Abbas Ibn Firnas came to Cordoba to teach music but his interest drifted to mathematics and then in the mechanics of flight. He constructed a pair of wings made out of feathers in a wooden frame, and attempted to fly - contributions to the history of ideas.
He made several attempts to construct a flying machine. In 852 he jumped from the minaret of the Grand Mosque in Cordoba using a loose cloak stiffened with wooden struts. He hoped to glide like a bird. He didn't. But the cloak slowed his fall, creating what is thought to be the first parachute, and leaving him with only minor injuries.
In 875, aged 70, having perfected a machine of silk and eagles' feathers he tried again, jumping from a mountain. He flew to a significant height and stayed aloft for ten minutes but crashed on landing - concluding, correctly, that it was because he had not given his device a tail so it would stall on landing. Baghdad International airport and a crater on the Moon are named after him.
Abbas turned his mind to the construction of a planetarium in which the planets actually revolved. It also simulated such celestial phenomena as thunder and lightning.
Next Abbas turned to the mathematical problems involved in the regularity of the facets of certain crystals and evolved a formula for manufacturing artificial crystals.
Compiled by:M. Nauman Khan / Ghulam Mohiuddin