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The story of ibn Firnas flying by attaching feathers to his arms and flapping his arms up and down is similar to the Greek myth of Icarus. The “1001 Inventions” exhibition changes the myth to the invention of the hang glider, The movie they show to children at the exhibition is even more dishonest, tricking children into thinking Ibn Firnas invented the airplane.
His “planetarium” was what the word meant in the 1800s: a model (but showing the sun and planets traveling around the Earth).
Ibn Firnas built a machine to make the sound of thunder, but Hero of Alexandria had done that 800 years earlier
Ibn Firnas copIed a water clock built by a Greek, and built something to keep time in music.
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The story of ibn Firnas flying by attaching feathers to his arms and flapping his arms up and down is similar to the Greek myth of Icarus.
The entire myth is nonsense because human muscles are not powerful enough to enable flying, and birds fly by changing the shape of their wings to “swim” through the air, not by moving their wings up and down.
The original version of the story is a poem written prior to the year 886 by Mu’min ibn Said. In a translation of the poem, the pertinent verse merely said : “He surpassed in velocity the flight of the ostrich, but neglected to arm his body with the strength of a vulture”. Another translation is “He flew faster than the phoenix in his flight when he dressed his body in the feathers of a vulture”.
LATER ADDITIONS TO THE LEGEND
800 years later, Ahmed Mohammed al-Maqqari wrote a book around the year 1630 that gave the original poem plus the legends that were invented centuries later.
These legends added the details of silk and eagle feathers, say ibn Firnas flew to a significant height and hung in the air for more than ten minutes, and quote ibn Firnas as saying “By guiding these wings up and down, I should ascend like the birds”.
The legend continued to grow, claiming “Armen Firman” wrapped himself in a loose cloak stiffened with wooden struts.
Modern Muslims refuse to admit the obvious fact that there are several versions of the same legend that contradict each other. Instead they argue over whether there was one person or 2 people, and whether or not one of the flights was only a parachute jump.
STORY CHANGED BY “1001 INVENTIONS”
The 1001 Inventions exhibit and their video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DuowOfkjR_E falsely depict ibn Firnas as using a frame (hang glider), and dishonestly hint that ibn Firnas invented the airplane before the Wright brothers.
Discussion of the legend is at
http://www.jasoncolavito.com/1/post/2012/11/what-early-flight-attempts-tell-us-about-ancient-astronaut-claims.html and http://www.jasoncolavito.com/1/post/2012/10/did-an-andalusian-moor-invent-flight.html
Muslim websites claim that Ibn Firnas built the first planetarium, but give no further explanation.
What he actually built was what a hundred years ago was called a planetarium, but is now called an orrery so it won’t be confused with what the word planetarium means in the 21st century.
He was not the first person to build an orrery. His orrery likely looked similar to this illustration at https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Planetarium_in_Putnam_Gallery_2,_2009-11-24.jpg#mw-jump-to-license
except it would have shown the Earth at the center and the moon, sun, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn traveling in circular paths around tthe Earth, and not showing that the planets have moons.
Ibn Firnas built a machine to make the sound of thunder, but Hero of Alexandria had done that 800 years earlier.
Ibn Firnas manufactured magnifying lenses, but he did not invent them. An engraver’s magnifying lens was unearthed in Pompeii. Ibn Firnas did not manufacture any spectacles.
Al-Maqqari’s claim that in the 9th century Ibn Firnas made fabric from glass created from clay is almost certainly false. Glass is almost always made from quartz sand, which is too durable to get weathered into clay.. The ancient Egyptians made glass fiber for decorating statues, but forming fabric from glass fiber would be very difficult.
Al-Maqqari also wrote that Ibn-Firnas made water clocks (probably of the pre-Islamic Pseudo-Archimedes design) and “invented an instrument called al-minkdlah [probably a water clock] by means of which time was marked in music”.
Image by Jacob Peter Gowy, via Wikimedia Commons.
image credit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Gowy-icaro-prado.jpg