Friday, March 16, 2007

lslam shows Math Genius In Its Mosaics

In the beauty and geometric complexity of the mosaics on walls of medieval Islamic buildings, scientists have recognized patterns suggesting that the designers had made a conceptual breakthrough in mathematics beginning as early as the 13th century.

A new study shows that the Islamic pattern - making process, far more intricate than the laying of one's bathroom floor, appears to have involved an advanced math of quasi crystals, which was not understood by modern scientists until three decades ago.

The findings, reported in the journal Science, are a reminder of the sophistication of art, architecture and science long ago in the Islamic culture. They also challenge the assumption that the designers somehow created these elaborate patterns with only a ruler and a compass. Instead, experts say, they may have had other tools and concepts.

Some of the most complex patterns, called "girih" in Persian, consist of sets of contiguous polygons fitted together with little distortion and no gaps. Running through each polygon is a decorative line. The interlocking ties were arranged in predictable ways to create a pattern that never repeats- quasi crystals.

The geometric star - and - polygon girihs, as quasi crystals, can be rotated certain number of degrees, say one -fifith of a circle, to positions from which other tiles are fitted. As such this makes possible a pattern that is infinitely big and yet the pattern never repeats itself, unlike the tiles on the typical floor.

This was an important breakthrough in Islamic mathematics and design.

(Source: Hindustan Times)

Iqbal Amrohi

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