From the Iraqi Banu Musa brothers of the 9th century, to the Andalusian engineer Abbas Ibn Firnas, to Al-Jazari who lived and worked in the 12th century – Jim Al-Khalili guides us through the work of the engineers and innovators of the Golden Age of science (9th – 14th centuries). He looks at state-of-the-art robotic engineering and studies the history of early automatic machines.
He unpicks the engineering principles behind the incredible trick devices of the Banu Musa brothers in the 9th century, and is shown a modern reconstruction of their ingenious ‘flute that plays itself’. In Istanbul, Jim is shown the intricate clocks and sophisticated water pumps designed by 12th century engineer Al-Jazari. And he analyses the claims made of Abbas Ibn Firnas – who supposedly managed to get airborne all the way back in the 9th century.