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minarets, ziggurats, female math prize winner, black holes described in the Quran
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minaret of the Great Samarra Mosque, built in the year 848 in what is today Iraq.
The ziggurats of the ancient Babylonians were as much as 91 meters tall, consisting of tiers, each tier smaller than the tier below. They rose at about a 45 degree angle. The inner core was made of sun-dried brick, clad with an exterior of kiln-baked brick. The shape was usually rectangular but sometimes circular. An exterior stairway, often attached to the wall, led to a flat area at the top.
The Samarra minaret, built in the year 848, was very similar to the ancient Babylonian ziggurats, except it was only about half as tall (52 meters), so there was less weight squeezing the sun-dried bricks. Therefore, it could rise at about a 65 degree angle instead of a 45 degree angle without slumping and collapsing.
It was almost as tall as the 55 meter height of the dome of the Hagia Sophia, built by Christians over 300 years earlier in 537.
The Qutab Minar minaret built in India in 1193 was 73 meters tall, taller than the dome of the Hagia Sophia built almost 700 years earlier, but not as tall as an ancient 101 meter tall Babylonian ziggurat,
Both the core and exterior cladding of the Qutab Minar minaret were probably made of kiln-fired brick, allowing it to rise at a much steeper angle without slumping or collapsing.
The Qutab Minar minaret was not as tall as the Chartres cathedral in France (completed several decades earlier in 1160), which was built of stone and had a hollow interior supported by columns and arches.
During the Islamic Golden Age, the tallest building built by Romans or Christians was always taller than the tallest building built by Muslims.
Image by IgorF, via Wikimedia Commons.
image credit https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Samara_spiralovity_minaret_rijen1973.jpg#mw-jump-to-license
artist’s conception of Tower of Babel
Image by unknown artist, via WPClipart.
Image credit https://www.wpclipart.com/world_history/lore/Tower_of_Babel_3.png.html
MATHEMATICS PRIZE WINNER
Iranian-American Maryam Mirzakhani (1977 – ) earned her PhD at Harvard. She was awarded the 2014 Fields Medal [the “Nobel Prize” of mathematics] for her contributions to symmetry of curved surfaces. Her work has some implications for quantum field theory and the formation of the universe.
[The war during her childhood was the Iran-Iraq war.]
A photograph with her hair not covered has appeared on the internet in Iran, setting off a controversy. Under Iranian Sharia Law, she could be sent to jail for a year in Iran, even though she was outside of Iran at the time her hair was not covered.
I have not been able to determine whether her Czech-American husband is a Muslim or not.
Image by unknown photographer, via Stanford University.
simulated view of a black hole in front of distant objects
BBC PROGRAM CLAIMS THE QURAN MENTIONS BLACK HOLES
ARABIC WORD FOR SWEEP NOW MEANS TO USE A VACUUM CLEANER
Quran verses 81:15-16 which word-by-word translate as “I swear by hidden, swiftly moving hidden” can be interpreted to mean almost anything, and therefore are a favorite for those Muslims attempting to make claims that the Quran describes scientific facts that had not yet been discovered by scientists.
Perhaps the most implausible claim made about this verse is that made by the producer of the “Scientific Miracles of the Quran” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ss-fuY3hTO8
video from the BBC. The Quran verse uses the word “jawari”, which in addition to meaning “swiftly moving” can also mean “to sweep with a broom”. After the vacuum cleaner was invented, the word “jawari” acquired the meaning “to use a vacuum cleaner”.
Therefore the BBC video claims that these verses predicted that black holes would be discovered that are “like giant vacuum cleaners sucking up debris in outer space”. By the way, black holes attract dust by the force of gravity; they do not create a vacuum that sucks in dust.
PLACE WHERE THE STARS SET IS A BLACK HOLE
Quran verses 56:75-76 mention the place where the stars set, which some translators have interpreted as being a black hole.
Actually, the meaning of the verse is similar to the verses that say the sun sets in a murky spring in the west.
Image by User:Alainr, via Wikimedia Commons.
Image credit https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:BH_LMC.png#mw-jump-to-license