One of the oldest civilizations across the globe, Indian 🇮🇳 civilization is enriched with culture, history as well as long and strong scientific and technological tradition. Ancient India was a land of seers and sages, besides, the land of scientists and scholars. Research has indicated that starting from making the best steel in the globe to teaching the world to count, India has actively contributed to the field of science and technology centuries long before the modern laboratories were developed. Many techniques and theories discovered by the ancient Indians have created and reinforced the fundamentals of contemporary science and technology. While some of these extraordinary contributions have been acknowledged, some are still hidden facts.
Here is a list of 12 significant contributions to the field of science and technology, made by ancient Indians, which will surely make you feel proud to be an Indian.
1. The Concept of Zero
The most significant and biggest contribution to the history of mathematics was “Zero”, which is literally nothing, but without the number, there would have been no binary system and eventually, no computers as well. Mathematician Aryabhata was the inventor of the symbol “Zero” and it was due to his efforts mathematical operations like addition and subtraction started using the key digit. The integration and concept of “Zero” into the place-value system further enabled one to write numbers.
2. Decimal System
Ancient India introduced the innovative method of expressing all numbers by means of ten symbols - decimal system. In this method, each symbol received a value of the position and absolute value. Due to the simplicity of the decimal system, which promotes calculation, this ingenious system made the uses of arithmetic in practical inventions much easier and faster.
3. Fibonacci Numbers
The Fibonacci Numbers and its sequence first appeared in Indian Mathematics as matrameru, addressed by Pingala in having a connection with the Sanskrit tradition of ‘Prosody’. Later, the methods for the formation of Fibonacci Numbers were delivered by Mathematicians Gopala, Virahanka, and Hemacandra, much ahead of the Italian Mathematician Fibonacci has introduced the interesting sequence to Western European Mathematics.
4. Numeral Notations
As early as 500 BCE, Ancient Indians have framed a system of distinct symbols for every number from 1 to 9. This notation system was embraced by the Arabs, who termed it the hind numerals. Centuries later, this fascinating system was adopted by the Western World, who re- termed it as Arabia Numerals as it reached them through the traders from Arab.
5. Binary Numbers
A basic language in which the computer programs are written is termed as Binary Numbers. It basically refers to a set of two numbers - 1 and 0, the combination of which are termed bits and bytes. This system was first introduced by the Vedic Scholar Pingala, in his book Chandahsastra.
6. Ruler Measurements
The uncovering at Harappans sites have yielded linear and rulers measures made from shell and ivory. It is pointed out in minute subdivisions with excellent accuracy, the calibrations parallel closely with the hast accruals of 13/8-inches, traditionally implemented in the ancient architecture of South India. Ancient bricks discovered at the revealing sites have dimensions that correspond to the units on these rulers.
7. Atomic Theory
Scientists Kanad is one of the notable personalities in ancient times, who is said to have invented the atomic theory centuries before John Dalton. He predicted the existence of small indestructible particles - ‘anu’ - much like an atom. Kanad further stated that ‘anu’ can have two states - a state of motion and absolute rest. He held that atoms of the same substances combined with each other in a synchronized and specific manner to produce tryanuka (triatomic molecules) and dvyanuka (diatomic molecules).
8. Wootz Steel
It is a progressing steel alloy matrix developed during ancient times in India. Wootz Steel is basically crucible steel defined by a pattern of brands that were popular by many distinct names, such as Hindwani, Ukku, and Seric Iron. This crucible steel was used to make the famous ‘Damascus Swords of Yore’, which could design a block of wood or a free-falling silk scarf with the same ease.
9. Plastic Surgery
‘Sushruta Samhita’ is considered to be one of the most significant textbooks on ancient surgery, which is written by Sushruta in the 6th Century. The text detailed various illnesses, cures, plants, and preparations along with complex techniques of plastic surgery. Its most well-popular contribution to plastic surgery is the reconstruction of the nose, termed as rhinoplasty.
10. Heliocentric Theory
Ancient Indian Mathematicians often used their mathematical knowledge to make exact astronomical predictions. The most significant among them was Aryabhatta, whose written book ‘Aryabhatiya’, illustrated the peak of astronomical knowledge at that ancient time. He firmly propounded that ‘Earth is Round’, ‘Rotates on its own Axis’, and ‘Revolves around the Sun’ - Heliocentric Theory. Aryabhatta further made predictions about the Solar Eclipse and Lunar Eclipse, duration of the day and also the distance between ‘Earth and Moon’.
11. Cataract Surgery
Ancient Indian Physician Sushruta has performed the first cataract surgery in the 6th Century BCE. To eliminate the cataract from eyes, he has used a curved needle, and Jabamukhi Salaka to loosen the lens and push the bug out of the field of vision. The eyes would then be covered for a few days until it completely healed. His splendid work was later translated into Arabic language and via the Arabs, Sushrutu’s works were introduced to the West.
12. Iron-Cased Rockets
Mysore’s Tipu Sultan has first developed the iron-cased rockets in the 1780s. He sucessfully used them against the larger and strong forces of the British East India Company during Anglo-Mysore Wars. Tipu Sultan designed long iron tubes, filled them with gunpowder, and tied to bamboo poles to create the forerunner of the modern rocket. With a range of around 2km, these iron-cased rockets were the best in the globe at ancient times and caused fears and confusion of damages.