Arabic Sciences and Philosophy 31 (2):159-182 (2021)

The authors translate and comment a digression from the Kitāb al-āṯār al-bāqiya on several hydraulic and hydrological subjects. The passage reveals al-Bīrūnī’s understanding of fluvial regimes, water physical behaviour, and of a handful of peculiar natural phenomena. Al-Bīrūnī departs from a discussion of weather forecast and seasonal fluvial regimes of the Tigris, Euphrates, Oxus, and Nile. The main concern of al-Bīrūnī is to defend the principle that water moves only downwards in absence of external forces. In doing so, the Khwarazmian scientist touches on the origin of salinity of the seas, the functioning of syphons related hydraulic machines, and relates a report of an artificial phenomenon, that he dismisses as result of faulty observations, that could be recognised as a hydraulic jump. In addition, the passage contains much relevant information on al-Bīrūnī’s understanding of the inhabitability of subequatorial regions, the possibility of the void, and the water cycle.RésuméLes auteurs traduisent et commentent un passage du Kitāb al-āṯār al-bāqiya concernant l'hydrologie. Ce passage révèle comment al-Bīrūnī comprenait les régimes fluviaux, le comportement physique de l'eau, et quelques phénomènes naturels spéciaux. Al-Bīrūnī ne se contente pas d'une discussion sur la prévision météorologique et les régimes fluviaux saisonniers du Tigre, de l'Euphrate, de l'Oxus et du Nile. Il défend surtout le principe qu'en l'absence de force externe, l'eau se meut vers le bas. Ce faisant, le savant du Khwarezm touche à l'origine de la salinité des mers et au fonctionnement des machines à syphon hydraulique, et il décrit un phénomène artificiel, qu'il rejette comme résultant d'observations erronées, mais qu'on pourrait reconnaître comme un cas de saut hydraulique. De plus, ce passage renseigne sur ce qu'al-Bīrūnī comprenait du caractère inhabitable des régions sub-équatoriales, de la possibilité du vide, et du cycle de l'eau.
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DOI 10.1017/s0957423921000059
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