L.A. exhibit highlights Muslim contributions to science and technology

Bright moments in the Dark Ages
If “1001 Inventions” does nothing else, it teaches that “Dark Ages” is a misguided moniker.
The period between the seventh century and the Renaissance was, in fact, a time of explosive creativity in the expansive Muslim world, which stretched from Spain to China. The breakthroughs in science, math, astrology and medicine continue to be influential.
The “1001 Inventions” exhibit, visited by more than 1 million people during its stops in the United Kingdom, Istanbul and New York, currently resides at the California Science Center. A 376-page companion book includes additional facts about the era.

No, it’s not “Harry Potter.” But this 13-minute film starring Ben Kingsley as a librarian who becomes a famed old-world inventor serves to grab a young person’s attention, and explains in simple terms what the exhibit entails.

At the end of the exhibition’s opening movie, Kingsley says, “Spread the word.” That’s what the creators of “1001 Inventions” hope to accomplish. They want the “Dark Ages” to be relabeled the “Golden Age.”

General: ‘Swine’ flu name causing some offense to Jews and Muslims

According to some Muslims and Jewish people of faith, the common name of the H1N1 virus, “Swine Flu,” is offensive in its reference to pigs, because the animal is considered unclean to Muslims and Jews. Some Israeli health officials have urged changing the name to “Mexican flu.” In the United States, the Center for Disease Control has recommended identifying the strain by its official and scientific name. Eating pigs and pork products is forbidden in both the Jewish and Muslim traditions.