Saturday, September 6, 2008


From Steven Weinberg's Harvard Phi Beta Kappa lecture "Without God," reprinted in the NYRB [and gated]:
in the past forty years I have not seen any paper in the areas of physics or astronomy that I follow that was written in an Islamic country and was worth reading. Thousands of scientific papers are turned out in these countries, and perhaps I missed something. Still, in 2002 the periodical Nature carried out a survey of science in Islamic countries, and found just three areas in which the Islamic world produced excellent science, all three directed toward applications rather than basic science. They were desalination, falconry, and camel breeding.

I look forward to the letters. Of course it's silly to attribute the weakness of Iranian physics to the tension between science and Islam; there are many more obvious things -- some religion-related, some not -- holding the Middle East back.

1 comment:

James said...

The problem with Arabs is that they don't even have a word for algebra, much less algorithm.