Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The man known in English as the poet Omar Khayyám (May 18 1048 - December 4 1123, assumed dates) was born in Nishapur (or Naishapur) in Khorasan, Persia, and named Ghiyath al-Din Abu'l-Fath Umar ibn Ibrahim Al-Nisaburi al-Khayyami (al-Khayyami means "the tentmaker"). His name in Persian is "عمر خیام".
Omar Khayyam the mathematician
He was famous during his lifetime as a mathematician and astronomer who calculated how to correct the Persian calendar. On March 15, 1079, Sultan Jalal al-Din Malekshah Saljuqi (1072-1092) put Omar's corrected calendar into effect, as in Europe Julius Caesar had done in 46 B.C. with the corrections of Sosigenes, and as Pope Gregory XIII would do in February 1552 with Aloysius Lilius' corrected calendar (although Britain would not switch from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar until 1751, and Russia would not switch until 1918).
Omar Khayyam the astronomer
In 1073, the Malik-Shah, ruler of Esfahan, invited Khayyám to build and work with an observatory, along with various other distinguished scientists. Eventually, Khayyám very accurately measured the length of the year as 365.24219858156 days.
Omar Khayyam and Islam
The philosophy of Omar Khayyam was quite different from official Islamic dogmas. He agreed with the existence of God but objected to the notion that every particular event and phenomenon was the result of divine intervention. Instead he supported the view that laws of nature explained all particular phenomena of observed life. Religious officials asked him many times to explain his different views about Islam. Khayyam eventually made a hajj [pilgrimage] to Mecca in order to prove he was a faithful follower of the religion.
Omar Khayyam the writer and poet
Omar Khayyám is famous today not for his scientific accomplishments, but for his literary works. He is believed to have written about a thousand four-line verses. In the English-speaking world, he is best known for The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám in the English translations by Edward Fitzgerald (1809-1883).
Other people have also published translations of some of the rubáiyát (rubáiyát means "quatrains"), but Fitzgerald's are the best known. Translations also exist in languages other than English.
See major article: The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám
See also: Persian literature
- The Rubaiyat
- On Omar's solutions to cubic equations
- Khayyam, Umar. A biography by Professor Iraj Bashiri, University of Minnesota.
- Biography by School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of St Andrews, Scotland
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