Islamic Golden Age

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pages: 322 words: 88,197

Wonderland: How Play Made the Modern World by Steven Johnson


Ada Lovelace, Alfred Russel Wallace, Antoine Gombaud: Chevalier de Méré, Berlin Wall, bitcoin, Book of Ingenious Devices, Buckminster Fuller, Claude Shannon: information theory, Clayton Christensen, colonial exploitation, computer age, conceptual framework, crowdsourcing, cuban missile crisis, Drosophila, Fellow of the Royal Society, game design, global village, Hedy Lamarr / George Antheil, HyperCard, invention of air conditioning, invention of the printing press, invention of the telegraph, Islamic Golden Age, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, Jacques de Vaucanson, James Watt: steam engine, Jane Jacobs, John von Neumann, joint-stock company, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, Landlord's Game, lone genius, megacity, Minecraft, Murano, Venice glass, music of the spheres, Necker cube, New Urbanism, Oculus Rift, On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, pattern recognition,, placebo effect, probability theory / Blaise Pascal / Pierre de Fermat, profit motive, QWERTY keyboard, Ray Oldenburg, spice trade, spinning jenny, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, supply-chain management, talking drums, the built environment, The Great Good Place, the scientific method, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, trade route, Turing machine, Turing test, Upton Sinclair, urban planning, Victor Gruen, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, white flight, Whole Earth Catalog, working poor, Wunderkammern

In whatever way, indeed, the power of genius may invent or combine, and to whatever low or even ludicrous purposes that invention or combination may be originally applied, society receives a gift which it can never lose; and though the value of the seed may not be at once recognized; and though it may lie long unproductive in the ungenial till of human knowledge, it will some time or other evolve its germ, and yield to mankind its natural and abundant harvest. —DAVID BREWSTER, Letters on Natural Magic Toys and games are the preludes to serious ideas. —CHARLES EAMES Introduction At Merlin’s You Meet with Delight In the early years of the Islamic Golden Age, around 760 CE, the new leader of the Abbasid Dynasty, Abu Ja’far al-Mansur, began scouting land on the eastern edge of Mesopotamia, looking to build a new capital city from scratch. He settled on a promising stretch of land that lay along a bend in the Tigris River, not far from the location of ancient Babylon. Inspired by his readings of Euclid, al-Mansur decreed that his engineers and planners should build a grand metropolis at the site, constructed as a nested series of concentric circles, each ringed with brick walls.

The question of why the Homo sapiens brain possesses this strange hankering for play and surprise is a fascinating one, and I will return to it in the final pages of this book. But for now, we need to establish just how far those playful explorations took us. The bone flutes must have sounded enchanting to the early humans of the Upper Paleolithic. But they were just the beginning. — The Banu Musa—those brilliant toy designers from the Islamic golden age—earned a permanent place in the pantheon of engineering and robotics with their Book of Ingenious Devices. And yet the brothers omitted from that collection what may have been their most ingenious device of all, a machine that would introduce one of the most important concepts of the digital age more than a thousand years before the first computers were built. Evidence of their design lies in a separate treatise, transcribed by a scholar in the twelfth century and discovered a hundred years ago in a library at Three Moons College in Syria.

This kind of global creation was almost unheard-of a thousand years ago: the limitations of transportation networks made invention and production largely local affairs. Games themselves—not the physical manifestation of the game, but the underlying rules—were among the first key cultural dishes to be cooked up in the global melting pot. (In a way, the closest equivalent to chess’s cosmopolitan evolution are the scientific insights that followed a similar geographic path, from the Islamic Renaissance through medieval monasteries to the European Enlightenment, with small but crucial additions and corrections added with each step of the journey.) Once again, a seemingly frivolous custom turns out to be an augur of future developments: if you were an aspiring futurologist in Cessolis’s day and you were looking for clues about the future of invention and commerce—perhaps even a future where virtual encyclopedias would be written and edited by millions of people around the world—a good place to start would be by studying the games people were playing for fun, and the evolution of the rules that governed those games.


pages: 537 words: 158,544

Second World: Empires and Influence in the New Global Order by Parag Khanna


Admiral Zheng, affirmative action, anti-communist, Asian financial crisis, Bartolomé de las Casas, Branko Milanovic, British Empire, call centre, capital controls, central bank independence, cognitive dissonance, colonial rule, complexity theory, crony capitalism, Deng Xiaoping, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, Donald Trump, Edward Glaeser, energy security, European colonialism, facts on the ground, failed state, flex fuel, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, friendly fire, Gini coefficient, global reserve currency, global supply chain, haute couture, Hernando de Soto, illegal immigration, income inequality, informal economy, invisible hand, Islamic Golden Age, Khyber Pass, knowledge economy, land reform, low skilled workers, means of production, megacity, Monroe Doctrine, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, open borders, open economy, Pax Mongolica, pirate software, Plutonomy: Buying Luxury, Explaining Global Imbalances, Potemkin village, price stability, race to the bottom, RAND corporation, reserve currency, rising living standards, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Skype, South China Sea, special economic zone, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Thomas L Friedman, trade route, trickle-down economics, uranium enrichment, urban renewal, Washington Consensus, women in the workforce

There are limits to how far a civilization can advance when people pray five times a day and live in the paralyzing heat of an endless desert. During Ramadan, day and night are switched, as people fast and rest all day and eat at night. As the custodians of Islam’s holiest sites, Wahhabis consider themselves the only true practitioners of Islam. Saudi culture has been intentionally held back by their effort to return the country to a pure Islamic golden age by destroying all pre-Muhammed artifacts, in some cases burying entire villages. For the Prophet and his disciples, there was no distinction between secular and divine authority, thus even the Wahhabist partnership with the Saudi royal family is an unholy alliance that the Ikhwan (Brethren) must bear since they cannot raise an army.18 Wahhabist radicals’ bombing of oil facilities and declaring fatwas against IPOs are mere symptoms of a far deeper struggle both they and Saudi society at large are enduring to either resist or adjust to global modernity.

If democracy assistance continues to be nothing more than aid to autocrats or salaries for consultants, the very regimes the West hopes to eliminate—those that sell themselves to the highest bidder with little regard for strategic stability—will continue to flourish. The same micro-politics of roads and access are also unfolding in Tajikistan, turning the country into another Silk Road rest stop. Precariously perched at the roof of the world in the Pamir Mountains, nestled among Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, and China, Tajikistan is another country that bends in the imperial winds—but with a radical Islamic twist. The country’s Islamic Renaissance Party was the only religious party to be recognized in the former Soviet Union, and in the 1980s it was a rallying point for Tajik nationalism as the Communist elite in the capital, Dushanbe, ironically neglected the very anti-Soviet insurgency in Afghanistan that sparked the collapse of the Soviet Union. Almost 150,000 people were killed in Tajikistan’s early 1990s civil war, which, like the simultaneous Yugoslav war, demonstrated the frail construction of national identity in the Communist world.

In a nearby underground shop, musicians collect and assemble centuries-old instruments used in the hypnotic ensembles that produce Silk Road music: high-pitched flutes, tightly strung guitars, Arabic drums—but no one is there to listen to them. Samarkand’s mighty Registan madrasah, once the center of all parades, festivals, and bazaars under Tamerlane, is today a looming but eerily empty space. Samarkand could become the symbol of a modern Islamic renaissance, again earning the city the appellation of the “second Mecca.” And the Ferghana Valley, the heart of the Silk Road’s mélange of currencies and cuisines, could have become a breadbasket for the region, elevating the farmers of all bordering states. Instead, Uzbekistan is a case study in wasted opportunities and warped ambitions. To boost his country’s gravitas in the “war on terror,” Karimov forcefully banned Islamist parties and social organizations.


pages: 437 words: 113,173

Age of Discovery: Navigating the Risks and Rewards of Our New Renaissance by Ian Goldin, Chris Kutarna


2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, 3D printing, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, AltaVista, Asian financial crisis, asset-backed security, autonomous vehicles, banking crisis, barriers to entry, battle of ideas, Berlin Wall, bioinformatics, bitcoin, Bonfire of the Vanities, clean water, collective bargaining, Colonization of Mars, Credit Default Swap, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, Dava Sobel, demographic dividend, Deng Xiaoping, Doha Development Round, double helix, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk,, epigenetics, experimental economics, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial innovation, full employment, Galaxy Zoo, global supply chain, Hyperloop, immigration reform, income inequality, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, information retrieval, intermodal, Internet of things, invention of the printing press, Isaac Newton, Islamic Golden Age, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, labour market flexibility, low cost carrier, low skilled workers, Lyft, Malacca Straits, megacity, Mikhail Gorbachev, moral hazard, Network effects, New Urbanism, non-tariff barriers, Occupy movement, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, open economy, Panamax, personalized medicine, Peter Thiel, post-Panamax, profit motive, rent-seeking, reshoring, Robert Gordon, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Shenzhen was a fishing village, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, smart grid, Snapchat, special economic zone, spice trade, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Stuxnet, TaskRabbit, too big to fail, trade liberalization, trade route, transaction costs, transatlantic slave trade, uranium enrichment, We are the 99%, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, working poor, working-age population, zero day

But the present “age” is broader than this year or this decade. It’s a phenomenon, a contest, that will shape the whole twenty-first century. Why focus on Europe? Renaissances, as we’ve defined them, can be found in every civilization. What took place in fifteenth-and sixteenth-century Europe has some broad parallels with the Mayan Classic Period (300–900), the early centuries of Korea’s Choso˘n Dynasty (1392–1897), the Islamic Golden Age (750–1260), China’s Tang Dynasty (618–907), India’s Gupta Empire (320–550) and the Mughal Empire under Akbar the Great (1556–1605). We encourage others to embark on the project of looking back to those periods for more insights into our present day. This book draws perspective from a particular moment of the European experience. Why? It’s not because fifteenth-century Europe was the most advanced civilization at that time.

To many young Iraqi Sunnis, already struggling with over 20 percent unemployment, it became clear that they were not welcome as full citizens under this new regime.31 From there, it was a short step to deciding to forsake it and join ISIS and other groups in building a new order of uncompromising Sunni dominance. A society full of broken promises is highly combustible. Once the fire of revolt breaks out, starving it of fuel takes political, social and economic actions as much as military ones, to start fulfilling citizens’ legitimate expectations for a greater dose of opportunity and dignity. Unfortunately, as Savonarola’s death suggests, such outcomes are elusive. An Islamic Renaissance? Stamping out revolt also takes new ideas—and on this front, the future looks brighter. The contest between moderate and extremist modernities is ultimately a battle of ideas, and while the Islamic State’s recent military successes have often been decisive, in the campaign for the hearts and minds of the Arab world, their gains are far less certain. Ambiguity reigns, especially among young people (upon whose willingness to break things and upset order, extremist movements from Savonarola to the present day heavily depend).


pages: 298 words: 81,200

Where Good Ideas Come from: The Natural History of Innovation by Steven Johnson


Ada Lovelace, Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, carbon-based life, Cass Sunstein, cleantech, complexity theory, conceptual framework, cosmic microwave background, crowdsourcing, data acquisition, digital Maoism, discovery of DNA, Dmitri Mendeleev, double entry bookkeeping, double helix, Douglas Engelbart, Drosophila, Edmond Halley, Edward Lloyd's coffeehouse, Ernest Rutherford, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, greed is good, Hans Lippershey, Henri Poincaré, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, hypertext link, invention of air conditioning, invention of movable type, invention of the printing press, invention of the telephone, Isaac Newton, Islamic Golden Age, Jacquard loom, James Hargreaves, James Watt: steam engine, Jane Jacobs, Jaron Lanier, John Snow's cholera map, Joseph Schumpeter, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, Kevin Kelly, lone genius, Louis Daguerre, Louis Pasteur, Mason jar, Mercator projection, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, online collectivism, packet switching, PageRank, patent troll, pattern recognition, price mechanism, profit motive, Ray Oldenburg, Richard Florida, Richard Thaler, Ronald Reagan, side project, Silicon Valley, silicon-based life, six sigma, Solar eclipse in 1919, spinning jenny, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Stewart Brand, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Great Good Place, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, transaction costs, urban planning

Word of his radical theory leaked out and began spreading through the enlightened minds of Europe during that period, but the first official publication came in his posthumous text, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, published in 1543. SQUARE ROOT AND PLUS AND MINUS SYMBOLS (1525) German mathematician Christoph Rudolff invented the modern mathematical symbols “+” and “−” and “√” in Coss, the first comprehensive guide to algebra in German in 1525. CUBIC EQUATIONS AND COMPLEX NUMBERS (1530-1540) The mathematicians of the Islamic Renaissance published several important papers on the understanding of cubic equations—along with the notion of complex numbers—which are essential to determining the area and volume of objects. But the modern technique for solving them is most prominently associated with the Italian mathematician and engineer Niccolò Tartaglia, who won a famous contest in 1530 that showcased his approach. Two other Italians from that period, Scipione del Ferro and his student Antonio Fiore, contributed to the math as well.


pages: 274 words: 66,721

Double Entry: How the Merchants of Venice Shaped the Modern World - and How Their Invention Could Make or Break the Planet by Jane Gleeson-White


Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Bernie Madoff, Black Swan, British Empire, carbon footprint, corporate governance, credit crunch, double entry bookkeeping, full employment, Gordon Gekko, income inequality, invention of movable type, invention of writing, Islamic Golden Age, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, joint-stock company, joint-stock limited liability company, Joseph Schumpeter, means of production, Naomi Klein, Ponzi scheme, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, spice trade, spinning jenny, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, trade route, traveling salesman, upwardly mobile

Crusades 16, 17, 18 currencies 100 da Gama, Vasco 29 da Pisa, Leonardo see Fibonacci da Vinci, Leonardo 7, 27, 32, 47, 60, 65, 80–2, 84, 87–8 Dafforne, Richard 120–3 Dandolo, Enrico 52 Dark Ages dark arts 35, 83 Darwin, Charles 139, 165 Das Kapital (Marx) 165 Dasgupta, Sir Partha 231–2, 237, 238, 239 Datini, Francesco 23–6, 52, 96 de’ Barbari, Jacopo 79 de’ Belfolci, Folco 34, 44 De divina proportione (Pacioli) 66, 82, 84, 85–6 De ludo scacchorum (Pacioli) 87–8 De pictura (Alberti) 60, 117 De quinque corporibus (Piero) 66 De viribus quantitatis (Pacioli) 83 Dean, Graeme W. 203 debit and credit entries 13, 55, 93–4, 100 difficulties 101–2, 122–3 The Decline of the West (Spengler) 167 Defoe, Daniel 127–8 della Francesca, Piero 7, 32, 34, 44–5, 46, 47 mathematical treatises 45, 66, 75 perspective painting 60, 64, 76–7 della Rovere, Giuliano 59 Deloitte, William 145 Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu 217 demand management 185 democracy 15 depreciation 148, 149, 231 Der moderne Kapitalismus (Sombart) 161–2, 171 derivatives market 198, 200 Descartes, René 40 d’Este, Isabella 83, 84, 88 dividends 144, 146, 147, 148, 149, 202 Doge’s Palace 50, 56 Domenici, Pete V. 191 domestic accounts 15–16 double-entry bookkeeping 8, 115, 120, 166 Badoer’s system 55 and capitalism 159–60, 161–75 and decision-making 126–7 earliest surviving 20–1 to improve the mind 125 link with rhetoric 172–3 in modern era 135–6, 249 origins 6–7, 16, 21–2 Pacioli’s definition 92–3 six essential features 20–1 texts on 117, 136 use by Datini 24, 26 Venetian 55, 67, 97–100, 123–7, 131 see also Particularis de computis et scripturis du Pont, Irénée 156 ducats 50, 55 Dürer, Albrecht 79–80 earnings per share (EPS) 219 earth see planet Earth Earth Summit 2012 248–9 East India Company 142 Ebbers, Bernie 213 eco-accounting 249 economic growth 192–3, 225, 227, 233, 242, 245, 248 economics 185 political economy 171 ecosystems 239–40, 247 education 245 Euclid’s Elements 37–8 quadrivium 36, 38, 43 trivium 38, 43 Egypt 35, 36 Eisenstein, Elizabeth 116–17 Elements (Euclid) 37–8, 39, 67, 68, 84 Elgin Marbles 15 Engels, Friedrich 162, 164, 165 England 116, 121, 131, 133, 147 Enron 3, 173, 194–9, 201, 207, 212–13, 214–16, 222–3 environmental accounting 233–8, 245, 247 environmental damage 222–3, 224–5, 232–3, 240, 241–2, 248 equity 21, 243 Erasmus of Rotterdam 68, 84–5 Erlich, Everett 235 Ernst & Young 209, 210, 216, 217 Espeland, Wendy Nelson 172–3 Euclid, Elements 37–8, 39, 67, 68, 75, 84 Eugenius IV, Pope 34 Europe 17, 20, 21, 22–3, 40, 116, 156, 188 accounting associations 153 currencies 25 medieval 26, 70–1 universities 30, 40, 42 vernacular languages 41 European Environment Agency 247 Evans, John H. 173–5 exchange rates 55 externalities 236 factory system 136–7, 138, 139–41, 165, 166 Farolfi ledger 20–1 Fastow, Andrew 213 Fells, J.M. 140–1 Fibonacci 18–19, 75 Fibonacci numbers 19–20 Liber abaci 19–20, 22, 39–41, 63, 66, 67, 75 Financial Accounting Standards Board (US) 206, 213 financial information 203–6 financial statements 5, 143, 144, 146, 200, 205, 214, 215 Fitoussi, Jean-Paul 243–4 Florence 6, 17, 34, 61, 64, 84 abbaco schools 41 bank ledger 20 expansion of commerce 21 Flugel, Thomas 127 Fondaco dei Tedeschi 56 Ford Motor Company 250–1 forests 240, 241 Forster, E.M. 154–5 Forster, Nathaniel 137 France 147 Franciscans 62, 65, 88, 89 Frankfurt Book Fair 95 Frederick II 95 Freiburg 27 Friedman, Milton 221 fund transfers 54 G20 249 Galileo 116, 166 Geijsbeek, John B. 157–8 General Electric 204 The General Theory of Employment (Keynes) 177–8, 179, 183, 185–6 Genoa 6, 17 geometry 36, 37, 38, 63, 73, 75, 81 Germany 56, 68, 183 Gertner, Jon 244 Giovanni, Enrico 244 Giovanni Farolfi & Co. 20 Glitnir 5 Global Biodiversity Outlook 3 (Sukhdev) global financial crisis (2008) 3, 5, 197, 215, 242, 243–4 globalisation, of finance 206–7, 219, 221 Goethe, Johann W. von 128–31 golden ratio 66, 86 Goodwin, Sir Fred 197 governmental accounting 120 grammar 38, 43 Great Depression 177, 178, 179, 180, 227 Greece, ancient 15 mathematics 34–5, 37–8, 61 philosophers 37 green accounting 244 Green Economy Report (Sukhdev) 248–9 Greenspan, Alan 227–8 Gross Domestic Product (GDP) 3, 180–2, 225, 227–30, 232–3, 235, 237–8, 242–3, 246 alternatives to 243–7, 249 failings of 246 Gross National Product (GNP) 1–3, 181, 190, 231 Groves, Eddy 208–9 Guidobaldo, Duke of Urbino 66, 72, 79, 92 Gutenberg, Johann 68, 77 Hagen, Everett 186 Hamilton, Alexander 22 Hammurabi’s Code 14 Haq, Mahbub ul 245 Henry VIII 25 Herodotus 36 HIH 208, 209, 213, 215 Hindu–Arabic arithmetic 34, 41, 62, 67 Hindu–Arabic numerals 18–19, 21, 26–7, 38, 44, 52, 71, 75 Hoenig, Chris 246–7 honeybee pollination 237 Hoover, Herbert 177 Hopwood, Anthony housework, unpaid 229 How to Pay for the War (Keynes) 182–3 Hudson, George 142–3 human capital 231, 248 Human Development Index 245 Humanism (Florence) 43–4, 59–60, 68 Huxley, Aldous 32–3 income measurement 218–19, 226 income statements 5, 202, 203, 219 in ancient Rome 16–17 see also profit and loss accounts India 29, 238 trade/double entry 22 Indonesia 240 industrial revolution 131, 133, 139, 200, 226 inflation 182, 183 information processing 203 Institute of Accountants and Bookkeepers of New York (IABNY) 156, 157 Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) 153, 205–6 Insull, Samuel 202, 214 Insull Utility Investments 201–2 interest payments 25, 54, 96 international accounting 189, 207 International Accounting Standards Board 207, 214 International Monetary Fund 187 internet 204 inventory 97–9, 101 Islam 22, 39 Italy 6, 7, 16, 19, 28, 167–8 mathematics 34–42, 62 Jerusalem 17 joint stock companies 133, 136, 142, 147, 148 Joint Stock Companies Act 1844 144, 149 Jones, Edward T. 133–6 Jones’ English System of Book-keeping 133–6 journal 99, 100, 101, 103, 118, 203 Julius II, Pope 59 Kennedy, Robert F. 1–3, 229–30, 246 Keynes, John Maynard 8, 176, 177–80, 182–7, 190, 250 Klein, Naomi 221, 233 KPMG 210, 214, 217 Kreuger, Ivar 201 Kreuger & Toll 201 Kublai Khan 18 Kuznets, Simon 2, 177, 180–1, 189, 229 Lanchester, John 4, 198 Landefeld, Steven 228 Landsbanki 5 Latin 35, 41, 63, 71, 72, 73, 74, 116, 220 Lawrence, D.H. 154–5 Lay, Kenneth 195, 196, 197, 212–13, 214 ledgers 20, 93, 99–100, 103–4, 118, 203 14th century 24, 93 Badoer’s 52, 55 balancing 111 closing accounts 111–13 Farolfi 20–1 Lee, G.A. 20–1 Lee, Thomas A. 203 Lehman Brothers 5, 216 Liber abaci (Fibonacci) 19–20, 22, 39–41, 63, 66, 67, 75 limited liability 147–8, 149 Littleton, A.C. 17, 140, 146, 147, 158–9 Liverpool and Manchester Railway 141 Lives of the Most Eminent Painters (Vasari) 46 Living Planet Survey 241–2 Lloyds-HBOS 5 London and North Western Railway 141 Louis XII 82 Machiavelli 30 Mackinnon, Nick 79–80 Madoff, Bernie 142 Madonna and Child with Saints 47 magic 35, 40, 83, 220 Mair, John 118, 125, 130 Malatesta family 33–4, 43 Malthus, Thomas 171 Manchester cotton mill (Engels) 165 Mandela, Nelson 221 Mantua 83, 84 manufacturing 136–41 manuscripts 61, 70, 77 Manutius, Aldus 84 Manzoni, Domenico 118–19 maritime insurance 53 Mark the Evangelist 51–2 marketplace, 15th century 95 markets, impact on politics 221, 228 mark-to-model 213 Marshall Plan 188 Marx, Karl 162, 163–5, 171 mass production 138 mathematics 7, 22, 28, 47, 89–90 ancient Greek 34–5, 37–8, 63 Arab 18–19, 63 and art 85–6 Hindu 39–40 in Italy 34–42 and magic 35, 40, 220 medieval European 63, 251–2 taught as astrology 29–30, 42 universal application 73, 116–17 see also arithmetic Mattessich, Richard 12–13, 186 Maurice, Prince of Orange 120 Maxwell Communications 207 McDonald’s 224 Meade, James 183–4 measurement 23, 218–19 Medici of Florence 26, 64, 80, 168, 171 Mehmed II 57 Mellis, John 121 memorandum (waste book) 99, 101, 118 entering transactions 105–7, 118, 122 merchandise 104 merchant bankers 21, 26, 69 merchants 10, 23, 35, 41 Arab 18–19, 25 Indian 22 Italian 40, 42 Phoenician 36 Venetian 18, 27, 55–6, 69, 94–5, 149 Mesopotamia 12, 13, 14 metaphysics 36–7 Middle Ages 60, 251–2 Milan 30, 34, 47, 61, 80–3 Millennium Ecosystem Assessment 239 Monsanto 222 Monteage, Stephen 124, 126 Morgan, John Pierpont 156 multiplication 74, 75–6 music 36, 38 Naples 50, 61–2 Napoleonic War 145 national accounts 175, 179–88, 190–3, 226–7, 230, 242, 244 natural capital 230–1, 235–9 navigation charts 23 Neighborhood Tree Survey (NY) 241, 244 Netherlands 119, 120 New Deal (Roosevelt) 177, 202 New York Light Company 155 New York Stock Exchange 155, 176, 201 New Zealand 153, 230 Nicholas V, Pope 61 No Royal Road: Luca Pacioli and his times (Taylor) 46–7 Nordhaus, William D. 180, 191, 227 numbers 37, 218, 219–20, 249 Obama, Barack 215, 246 O’Grady, Oswald 208 Oldcastle, Hugh 121, 124 Olmert, Michael 168 One.Tel 208, 209, 213, 215 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) 190, 242 Organisation for European Economic Co-operation (OEEC) 188 Ormerod, Paul 244 Ottoman Empire 29, 34, 50, 51, 56, 57, 116 Pacioli, Luca 7, 8, 27–8, 34, 35, 161, 219 abbaco mathematics 40, 41 as academic 65, 80, 84, 89 astrologer 42 birth 30 bookkeeping treatise see Particularis de computis and Piero della Francesca 45–6, 47–8 education 43–8 encyclopaedia see Summa de arithmetica on Euclid 84–5 games/tricks 83–4 itinerant teacher 61–6 last years 88–90 and Leonardo da Vinci 80–2, 84 in Milan 80–3 portrait 47, 79–80 and the printing press 66–72 remembered in Sansepolcro 31–2 in Rome 58–61 in Venice 49–58 Paganini, Paganino de 67–8, 71–2, 78, 85 painting 60, 64, 81 Pakistan 224, 245 Paris 23, 50 Particularis de computis et scripturis (Pacioli) 29–30, 78, 90–114, 117–18, 121 and capitalism 163 foundation of modern accounting 30, 75, 131, 157–9, 166 profit calculation 146–7 partnerships 108–9, 147 Patel, Raj 222, , 224 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act 2010 (US) 246 patronage 59, 67, 70, 72 Paul II, Pope 59 Payen, Jean-Baptiste 139–40 Peking 18 Perspectiva (Witelo) 64 perspective 23, 42, 45, 60, 64, 76–7, 80, 82 Perugia 62–3, 64, 65 Petty, William 180 phi 86 Philip VI 23 philosophy 37, 40 Phoenicians 36 pi 36 Piazza San Marco 56 Pinto cars 250–1 Pisa 6, 17 Pitcher Partners 209, 210, 211–12 plagiarism 63 planet Earth 8–9, 248 accounting for 254 effects of cost-benefit approach 175 health of 224–5, 239 Plato 37 Platonic solids 45, 79, 86 Pliny the Elder 16 pollution 244 Polly Peck International 207 Polo, Marco 18 Ponzi scheme 142 Postlethwayt, Malachy 124 poverty 237, 246, 248, 249 Prato 23–4 Price, Samuel 145 Price Waterhouse 201, 207 PricewaterhouseCoopers 217 principlism 173–4 printing 29, 45, 60, 63, 66–72, 77–8, 90, 115–17 profit 21, 24, 97, 102–3, 127, 146–8, 159, 161, 167, 169 profit and loss accounts 55, 109–11, 112, 166 Pythagoras 35, 36–7 quadrivium 36, 38, 43 quant nerds 220 railways 141–3, 231 Ramsay, Ian 211 Ratdolt, Erhard 68, 116 record-keeping 15 Reformation 33 regulation 206–14, 215 Reid Murray Holdings 207–8 religion 24, 96, 116, 124–5, 220 see also Christian Church; Islam Renaissance 7, 8, 23, 26, 36, 59, 80, 86, 89, 168 art 6, 7, 44, 60, 86 Resurrection (Piero) 32, 33 retained-earnings statements 5, 219 rhetoric 172–3 Rialto 50, 55, 108 Ricardo, David 171 Rich, Jodee 213 Rinieri Fini & Brothers 20 Ripoli Press 70 Robert of Chester 39 Rockefeller, John D. 156 Roman numerals 19, 26–7, 38, 40, 71, 116 Romantic poets, English 131, 154 Rome 58–61, 64, 89 ancient 15–16 Rompiasi family 57, 58, 97 Roosevelt, Franklin D. 177, 178, 181, 202, 214, 215 Rose, Paul L. 71 Ross, Philip 209–10, 211 Rothschild banks 133 Royal Bank of Scotland 173, 197–8 royal estate management 16–17 Rule of Three 38, 41 Russia 153–4 salt 51 Samuelson, Paul A. 191, 227 Sansepolcro 30–4, 43–4, 48, 65, 77, 88–9, 168 Sanuto, Marco 66, 72 Sarbanes, Paul 191 Sarbanes-Oxley Act 2002 212, 215 Sarkozy, Nicolas 242–3, 245 satellite accounts 234–5 scandals/fraud 194–203, 206, 207–12, 215, 225 Schmandt-Besserat, Denise 11–12 Schumpeter, Joseph 169–70 science 35, 37, 40, 42, 67, 76, 116, 166–7 Scotland 27, 147, 150, 153 Scott, Sir Walter 150–1 Scuola di Rialto 58 Second World War 32, 181–5, 187, 227 Securities and Exchange Commission (US) 202–3, 213, 214 Sen, Amartya 243–4, 245 Sforza, Ludovico 80, 81–2, 85, 86, 168 Sikka, Prem 216, 217 Silberman, Mark 213 Simons, James 220 Sistine Chapel 65 Sixtus IV, Pope 59 Skidelsky, Robert 178, 182, 187 Skilling, Jeffrey K. 196, 197, 212, 214 Smith, Adam 171 social sciences 171, 175 socialism 171 Society of Accountants, Edinburgh 152 Sombart, Werner 161–2, 164, 165–6, 166–8, 169, 170, 171–2, 173 Spain 22, 39 Spengler, Oswald 167 Sri Lanka 232–3, 240 State of the USA 246 Stevin, Simon 120, 121, 166, 169 Stiglitz, Joseph 243–4 Stiglitz-Sen-Fitoussi Commission 243–4 stock markets 143 stocktaking 166 Stone, Sir Richard 183–5, 188–9, 190 sub-prime mortgages Sukhdev, Pavan Summa de arithmetica (Pacioli) 57, 61, 62–3, 64, 72–7, 80, 82 printing 66–8, 71–2 publication 32, 77–9 sustainability 232, 243, 249 System of Integrated Environmental and Economic Accounting (UN) 234 System of National Accounts (UN) 189–90, 247 tabulae rationum 16 Taleb, Nassim N. 220 tariffs 63 Tartaglia, Nicholas 76 Taylor, R.


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Gaza in Crisis: Reflections on Israel's War Against the Palestinians by Ilan Pappé, Noam Chomsky, Frank Barat


Ayatollah Khomeini, Boycotts of Israel, British Empire, desegregation, European colonialism, facts on the ground, failed state, friendly fire, ghettoisation, Islamic Golden Age, New Journalism, price stability, too big to fail

As if this were not enough, since September 2001, this theology has also adopted a clear anti-Islamic line. In his important work on the subject, Stephen Sizer has revealed how Christian Zionists have constructed a historical narrative that describes the Muslim attitude to Christianity throughout the ages as a kind of a genocidal campaign, first against the Jews and then against the Christians.12 Hence, what were once hailed as moments of human triumph in the Middle East—the Islamic renaissance of the Middle Ages, the golden era of the Ottomans, the emergence of Arab independence and the end of European colonialism—were recast as the satanic, anti-Christian acts of heathens. In the new historical view, the United States became St. George, Israel his shield and spear, and Islam their dragon. THE KING-CRANE LEGACY In the heart of Ohio lies the town of Oberlin. At the beginning of the nineteenth century it was still a typical Midwest American village, surrounded by infinite cornfields, away from the ivy towers of the East and West coasts.


pages: 467 words: 114,570

Pathfinders: The Golden Age of Arabic Science by Jim Al-Khalili


agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, Andrew Wiles, Book of Ingenious Devices, colonial rule, Commentariolus, Dmitri Mendeleev, Eratosthenes, Henri Poincaré, invention of the printing press, invention of the telescope, invention of the wheel, Isaac Newton, Islamic Golden Age, Joseph Schumpeter, retrograde motion, Silicon Valley, Simon Singh, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, the scientific method, Thomas Malthus, trade route, William of Occam

But as we shall see shortly, it was six hundred years before the word alchimia became ‘alchemy’ and came to have its modern meaning of transmutation. A number of historians have until recently been lazy in pinpointing the origin of this distinction. Their mistake has been to push the notion that there was a clear and well-understood difference between alchemy and chemistry all the way back to the Islamic golden age. However, even after Europeans began using two different words, ‘chemistry’ and ‘alchemy’, they still did not distinguish between the two. A practitioner was referred to either as a ‘chemist’ or an ‘alchemist’ (the prefix ‘al’ being the only difference, even in modern English, between the two words). Sometimes their meanings were even reversed: before the seventeenth century, transmutation was often referred to as ‘chemistry’ and those who practised laboratory chemistry were referred to as ‘alchemists’.

For the good cannot be brought forth, and evil cannot be avoided, except by knowledge. What benefit then is more vivid? What use is more abundant? Al-Bīrūni In a famous correspondence around the year 1000 CE, two Persian geniuses argued about the nature of reality in a way that would not sound out of place in any modern university physics department. Of all the great thinkers and polymaths of the Islamic golden age, these two men were giants, for they were in every way the equals of the very best that the golden age of Greece had produced. The younger of the two had been a privileged child prodigy who grew up to become the brash superstar of his age, a celebrity polymath whose philosophy would influence the world’s greatest minds, and whose Canon of Medicine (al-Qānūn fi al-Tibb) would become the world’s most important medical textbook for over half a millennium.

His son, Roger II, reigned for forty-two years (1112–54), mostly now as king; under his rule Sicily became a powerful and wealthy kingdom that included the whole of the southern half of Italy, with its capital, Palermo, as one of the most important cultural centres of Europe. We encountered him earlier as the ruler for whom the great Andalusian geographer al-Idrīsi wrote his famous Book of Roger. But to what extent did Europe really remain in the shadow of the Islamic Empire? It would be wrong to dismiss completely any form of original scientific scholarship in Europe during the Islamic golden age, for there are always isolated pockets of intellectual activity and excellence wherever and whenever one looks in world history. Two notable lights and original thinkers who shone in the medieval darkness were the Italian Thomas Aquinas (c. 1225–74), and the Englishman William of Occam (c. 1288–1347). However, there were very few other Christian scholars whose achievements could rival their Muslim counterparts until the end of the fifteenth century and the arrival of Renaissance geniuses such as Leonardo da Vinci.


pages: 482 words: 125,429

The Book: A Cover-To-Cover Exploration of the Most Powerful Object of Our Time by Keith Houston


clean water, Commentariolus, dumpster diving, Eratosthenes, financial innovation, invention of movable type, Islamic Golden Age, knowledge economy, means of production, Murano, Venice glass, paper trading, Ponzi scheme, wikimedia commons

Adam Lucas, Wind, Water, Work: Ancient and Medieval Milling Technology (Leiden: Brill, 2006), 61–68; Bloom, Paper Before Print, 50–56; Karen Garlick, “A Brief Review of the History of Sizing and Resizing Practices,” in The Book & Paper Group Annual, vol. 5 (American Institute for Conservation, 1986), 94–107. 23. Garlick, “A Brief Review.” 24. J. L. Berggren, Episodes in the Mathematics of Medieval Islam (New York: Springer, 2003), 6–9, 31–32; Jonathan M. Bloom, “Paper: The Islamic Golden Age,” Essay, BBC, November 28, 2013, 25. Bloom, “Paper: The Islamic Golden Age.” 26. “Reconquista,” Encyclopaedia Britannica, accessed December 17, 2013,; Catherine Delano Smith, “The Visigothic Kingdom,” Encyclopaedia Britannica, accessed March 20, 2013, 27. Hunter, Papermaking, 473. 28.


pages: 285 words: 78,180

Life at the Speed of Light: From the Double Helix to the Dawn of Digital Life by J. Craig Venter


Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, Barry Marshall: ulcers, bioinformatics, borderless world, Brownian motion, clean water, discovery of DNA, double helix, epigenetics, experimental subject, Isaac Newton, Islamic Golden Age, John von Neumann, Louis Pasteur, Mars Rover, Mikhail Gorbachev, phenotype, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, stem cell, the scientific method, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Turing machine

That same decade, British TV audiences were introduced to Doctor Who and his TARDIS (time and relative dimension in space), a blue London police box that could transport its occupants to any point in time and any place in the universe. The idea of teleportation did not originate with Star Trek or Doctor Who but has been in one form or other a part of literature for centuries. In One Thousand and One Nights (often known as The Arabian Nights), a collection of stories and folk tales compiled during the Islamic Golden Age and published in English in 1706, genies (djinns) can transport themselves and objects from place to place instantaneously. Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Disintegration Machine,” published in 1929, describes a machine that can atomize and reform objects. Teleportation has been explored by many fantasy and science-fiction writers, including Isaac Asimov (“It’s Such a Beautiful Day”),3 George Langelaan (“The Fly”), J.


pages: 551 words: 174,280

The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World by David Deutsch


agricultural Revolution, Albert Michelson, anthropic principle, artificial general intelligence, Bonfire of the Vanities, conceptual framework, cosmological principle, dark matter, David Attenborough, discovery of DNA, Douglas Hofstadter, Eratosthenes, Ernest Rutherford, first-past-the-post, Georg Cantor, Gödel, Escher, Bach, illegal immigration, invention of movable type, Isaac Newton, Islamic Golden Age, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, John Conway, John von Neumann, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, Loebner Prize, Louis Pasteur, pattern recognition, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Stephen Hawking, supervolcano, technological singularity, The Coming Technological Singularity, the scientific method, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, Turing test, Vernor Vinge, Whole Earth Review, William of Occam

He foresaw the invention of microscopes, telescopes, self-powered vehicles and flying machines – and that mathematics would be a key to future scientific discoveries. He was thus an optimist. But he was not part of any tradition of criticism, and so his optimism died with him. Bacon studied the works of ancient Greek scientists and of scholars of the ‘Islamic Golden Age’ – such as Alhazen (965–1039), who made several original discoveries in physics and mathematics. During the Islamic Golden Age (between approximately the eighth and thirteenth centuries), there was a strong tradition of scholarship that valued and drew upon the science and philosophy of European antiquity. Whether there was also a tradition of criticism in science and philosophy is currently controversial among historians. But, if there was, it was snuffed out like the others.


pages: 606 words: 87,358

The Great Convergence: Information Technology and the New Globalization by Richard Baldwin


3D printing, additive manufacturing, Admiral Zheng, agricultural Revolution, air freight, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Berlin Wall, bilateral investment treaty, Branko Milanovic, buy low sell high, call centre, Columbian Exchange, Commodity Super-Cycle, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, domestication of the camel, Edward Glaeser, Erik Brynjolfsson, financial intermediation, George Gilder, global supply chain, global value chain, Henri Poincaré, imperial preference, industrial robot, invention of agriculture, invention of the telegraph, investor state dispute settlement, Isaac Newton, Islamic Golden Age, James Dyson, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, Lao Tzu, low skilled workers, market fragmentation, New Economic Geography, out of africa, paper trading, Pax Mongolica, profit motive, rent-seeking, reshoring, Richard Florida, rising living standards, Second Machine Age, Simon Kuznets, Skype, Snapchat, Stephen Hawking, telepresence, telerobotics, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trade liberalization, trade route, Washington Consensus

See also spillovers Innovation and Growth in the Global Economy (Grossman and Helpman), 193 International Monetary Fund (IMF), 99 Internet, 83–84, 84f, 130. See also ICT (information and communication technology) In the Wake of the Plague (Cantor), 35 intra-industry trade (IIT), 96, 97 Investor State Dispute Settlement provisions, 103 Iron Age, 27, 28f–29f, 29, 31 Irwin, Doug, 119 Islam, Golden Age of, 33, 34, 37f Islamic World, 35, 38, 43. See also Silk Road IT (information technology), 79; future and, 287–288, 291; polarization of jobs and, 294–295 Italy, 29, 43, 180–182, 208. See also Europe; G7 Italy/Greece. See also A7 ITC (information and communication technology): speed and, 12 IT (information technology) . See also technology James, Harold, 64 Japan: cities over 100,000 and, 31f; comparative advantage example, 183–184f; competitive advantage and, 167; economy-wide smile curve and, 157; industrialization 1000-1913, 59, 60f; industrialization and, 55; manufacturing and, 86–87, 90f, 91; Meiji example, 183–184f; North-South back-and forth-trade and, 96, 97f, 98; offshoring and, 133; per capita incomes year 1 to 1820, 42–43f; per capita industrialization (1750-1913), 57, 58f, 59; railroads and, 51; smile curve and, 159; tariffs and, 72; urbanization and, 62–63t.


pages: 420 words: 124,202

The Most Powerful Idea in the World: A Story of Steam, Industry, and Invention by William Rosen


Albert Einstein, All science is either physics or stamp collecting, barriers to entry, collective bargaining, computer age, Copley Medal, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, decarbonisation, delayed gratification, Fellow of the Royal Society, Flynn Effect, fudge factor, full employment, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Islamic Golden Age, iterative process, Jacquard loom, James Hargreaves, James Watt: steam engine, John Harrison: Longitude, Joseph Schumpeter, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, knowledge economy, moral hazard, Network effects, Peace of Westphalia, Peter Singer: altruism, QWERTY keyboard, Ralph Waldo Emerson, rent-seeking, Ronald Coase, Simon Kuznets, spinning jenny, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, transaction costs, transcontinental railway, éminence grise

Perpetual technological innovation is so much a part of contemporary life that it is difficult even to imagine the world without it. It is the modern world, however, that is historically anomalous. Hundreds of different cultures had experienced bursts of inventiveness and economic growth before the eighteenth century—bursts they were unable to sustain for more than a century or so. Imagine, for example, how different the last eight hundred years might have been had the Islamic Golden Age—whose inventors were responsible for everything from crankshaft-driven windmills and water turbines to the world’s most advanced mechanical clocks—survived the thirteenth century. Instead, like all the world’s earlier explosions of invention, it, in the words of one of the phenomenon’s most acute observers, “fizzled out.”8 One unique characteristic of the eighteenth-century miracle was that it was the first that didn’t.


pages: 956 words: 288,981

Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2011 by Steve Coll


airport security, Ayatollah Khomeini, Berlin Wall, Boycotts of Israel, colonial rule, computer age, energy security, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, illegal immigration, index card, Islamic Golden Age, Khyber Pass, Mikhail Gorbachev, Network effects, RAND corporation, Ronald Reagan, trade route, upwardly mobile, urban planning, women in the workforce

When it became clear that the Americans weren’t interested, Zia said openly that Pakistan’s army and intelligence service would work to install a friendly government in Kabul, one that would protect Pakistan’s interests in its rivalry with India and prevent any stirrings of Pashtun nationalism on Pakistani territory. Zia felt this was only Pakistan’s due: “We have earned the right to have [in Kabul] a power which is very friendly toward us. We have taken risks as a frontline state, and we will not permit a return to the prewar situation, marked by a large Indian and Soviet influence and Afghan claims on our own territory. The new power will be really Islamic, a part of the Islamic renaissance which, you will see, will someday extend itself to the Soviet Muslims.”8 In Washington that winter, much more than the liberals it was the still-vigorous network of conservative anticommunist ideologues in the Reagan administration and on Capitol Hill who began to challenge the CIA-ISI combine. These young policy makers, many of whom had traveled at one point or another to the Khyber Pass and stared across the ridges for a few hours with mujahedin commanders, feared that a CIA pullback from Afghanistan would sell out the Afghan rebel cause.


pages: 1,117 words: 305,620

Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battlefield by Jeremy Scahill


air freight, anti-communist, blood diamonds, business climate, citizen journalism, colonial rule, crowdsourcing, Donald Trump, failed state, friendly fire, Google Hangouts, indoor plumbing, Islamic Golden Age, land reform, Mohammed Bouazizi, Naomi Klein, private military company, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, WikiLeaks

Khan eventually found a home at Muslimpad, run by Islamic Network (one time employer of Daniel Maldonado, who was convicted for traveling to ICU training camps in Somalia). One of his blogs, also called Inshallahshaheed, was started in 2005 and had become wildly popular by 2007, ranking among the top 1 percent of 100 million websites in the world by the traffic counter His other blogs went by names such as Human Liberation–An Islamic Renaissance and Revival. On his blogs, Khan would extol the victories and virtues of al Qaeda central and its affiliated militants, but his writings also helped to popularize a broader ideological movement that included radical sheikhs and scholars many Americans would not have known about. A later blog featured in its “About” section a list of men he described as “scholars of Islam...who we take knowledge from,” and included Abu Musab al Zarqawi, Abu Layth Libi, and Anwar Awlaki.


pages: 1,800 words: 596,972

The Great War for Civilisation: The Conquest of the Middle East by Robert Fisk


Albert Einstein, Ayatollah Khomeini, Berlin Wall, Boycotts of Israel, British Empire, call centre, clean water, colonial rule, cuban missile crisis, friendly fire, Howard Zinn, IFF: identification friend or foe, invisible hand, Islamic Golden Age, Khartoum Gordon, Khyber Pass, land reform, Mahatma Gandhi, Mikhail Gorbachev, music of the spheres, Ronald Reagan, the market place, Thomas L Friedman, Transnistria, unemployed young men, uranium enrichment, Yom Kippur War

We carried our weapons on our shoulders here for ten years, and we and the sons of the Islamic world are prepared to carry weapons for the rest of our lives. But despite this, oil is not the direct impetus for the Americans occupying the region—they obtained oil at attractive prices before their invasion. There are other reasons, primarily the American–Zionist alliance, which is filled with fear at the power of Islam and of the land of Mecca and Medina. It fears that an Islamic renaissance will drown Israel. We are convinced that we shall kill the Jews in Palestine. We are convinced that with Allah’s help, we shall triumph against the American forces. It’s only a matter of numbers and time. For them to claim that they are protecting Arabia from Iraq is untrue—the whole issue of Saddam is a trick.” There was something new getting loose here. Condemning Israel was standard fare for any Arab nationalist, let alone a man who believed he was participating in an Islamic jihad.