Today, May 18, Google has honoured a renowned Persian mathematician, a well-known astronomer and poet Omar Khayyam on his 971st birthday with a doodle. He is popularly known for his work on the classification and solution of cubic equations where he provided geometric solutions by the intersections of conics. His some of the notable work in mathematics include A commentary on the difficulties concerning the postulates of Euclid’s Elements, On the division of a quadrant of a circle, and On proofs for problems concerning Algebra. He furthermore wrote a treatise on extracting binomial theorem and the nth root of natural numbers.
He was born in Nishapur, a leading metropolis in Khorasan during medieval times that reached its climax of prosperity in the eleventh century under the Seljuq dynasty. Nishapur was then religiously a major centre of Zoroastrians. It is likely that Khayyam’s father was a Zoroastrian who had converted to Islam. His full name, as it appears in the Arabic sources, was Abu’l Fath Omar ibn Ibrāhīm al-Khayyām.
Khayyam also contributed to the understanding of the parallel axiom. As an astronomer, he designed the Jalali calendar, a solar calendar with a very precise 33-year intercalation cycle.
The earliest allusion to Omar Khayyam’s poetry is from the historian Imad ad-Din al-Isfahani, a younger contemporary of Khayyam, who explicitly identifies him as both a poet and a scientist.
Some of his famous quotes are:
♦ Drink! for you know not whence you came nor why: drink! for you know not why you go, nor where.
♦ The moving finger writes, and having written moves on. Nor all thy piety nor all thy wit, can cancel half a line of it.
♦ Living Life Tomorrow’s fate, though thou be wise, Thou canst not tell nor yet surmise; Pass, therefore, not today in vain, For it will never come again.
♦ When I want to understand what is happening today or try to decide what will happen tomorrow, I look back.
♦ The Worldly Hope men set their Hearts upon Turns Ashes – or it prospers; and anon, Like Snow upon the Desert’s dusty Face, Lighting a little hour or two – is gone.