Contributions made by Ancient Indians to the world of Science and Technology

The Idea of Zero
• Mathematician Aryabhata was the first person to create a symbol for zero and it was through his efforts that mathematical operations like addition and subtraction started using the digit, zero.
• The concept of zero and its integration into the place-value system also enabled one to write numbers, no matter how large, by using only ten symbols.

The Decimal System
• India gave the ingenious method of expressing all numbers by means of ten symbols – the decimal system.
• In this system, each symbol received a value of position as well as an absolute value.
• Due to the simplicity of the decimal notation, which facilitated calculation, this system made the uses of arithmetic in practical inventions much faster and easier.

Numeral Notations
• Indians, as early as 500 BCE, had devised a system of different symbols for every number from one to nine.
• This notation system was adopted by the Arabs who called it the hind numerals.
• Centuries later, this notation system was adopted by the western world who called them the Arabic numerals as it reached them through the Arab traders

Fibonacci Numbers
• The Fibonacci numbers and their sequence first appear in Indian mathematics as mātrāmeru, mentioned by Pingala in connection with the Sanskrit tradition of prosody.
• Later on, the methods for the formation of these numbers were given by mathematicians Virahanka, Gopala and Hemacandra , much before the Italian mathematician Fibonacci introduced the fascinating sequence to Western European mathematics.

Binary Numbers
• Binary numbers are the basic language in which computer programs are written.
• Binary basically refers to a set of two numbers, 1 and 0, the combinations of which are called bits and bytes.
• The binary number system was first described by the Vedic scholar Pingala, in his book Chandahśāstra, which is the earliest known Sanskrit treatise on prosody ( the study of poetic metres and verse)

Ruler Measurements
• Excavations at Harappans sites have yielded rulers or linear measures made from ivory and shell.
• Marked out in minute subdivisions with amazing accuracy, the calibrations correspond closely with the hasta increments of 1 3/8 inches, traditionally used in the ancient architecture of South India.
• Ancient bricks found at the excavation sites have dimensions that correspond to the units on these rulers.

A Theory of Atom
• One of the notable scientists of the ancient India was Kanad who is said to have devised the atomic theory centuries before John Dalton was born.
• He speculated the existence of anu or a small indestructible particles, much like an atom. He also stated that anu can have two states — absolute rest and a state of motion.
• He further held that atoms of same substance combined with each other in a specific and synchronized manner to produce dvyanuka (diatomic molecules) and tryanuka (triatomic molecules).

The Heliocentric Theory
• Mathematicians of ancient India often applied their mathematical knowledge to make accurate astronomical predictions.
• The most significant among them was Aryabhatta whose book, Aryabhatiya, represented the pinnacle of astronomical knowledge at the time.
• He correctly propounded that the Earth is round, rotates on its own axis and revolves around the Sun i.e the heliocentric theory.
• He also made predictions about the solar and lunar eclipses, duration of the day as well as the distance between the Earth and the Moon.

Wootz Steel
• A pioneering steel alloy matrix developed in India, Wootz steel is a crucible steel characterized by a pattern of bands that was known in the ancient world by many different names such as Ukku, Hindwani and Seric Iron.
• Produced by the Tamils of the Chera Dynasty, the finest steel of the ancient world was made by heating black magnetite ore in the presence of carbon in a sealed clay crucible kept inside a charcoal furnace.

Smelting of Zinc
• India was the first to smelt zinc by the distillation process, an advanced technique derived from a long experience of ancient alchemy.
• Zawar in the Tiri valley of Rajasthan is the world’s first known ancient zinc smelting site.
• The distillation technique of zinc production goes back to the 12th Century AD and is an important contribution of India to the world of science.

Plastic Surgery
• Written by Sushruta in 6th Century BC, Sushruta Samhita is considered to be one of the most comprehensive textbooks on ancient surgery.
• The text mentions various illnesses, plants, preparations and cures along with complex techniques of plastic surgery.
• The Sushruta Samhita ’s most well-known contribution to plastic surgery is the reconstruction of the nose, known also as rhinoplasty.

Ayurveda
• Long before the birth of Hippocrates, Charaka authored a foundational text, Charakasamhita, on the ancient science of Ayurveda.
• Referred to as the Father of Indian Medicine, Charaka was the first physician to present the concept of digestion, metabolism and immunity in his book.
• Charaka’s ancient manual on preventive medicine remained a standard work on the subject for two millennia and was translated into many foreign languages, including Arabic and Latin.

Iron-Cased Rockets
• The first iron-cased rockets were developed in the 1780s by Tipu Sultan of Mysore who successfully used these rockets against the larger forces of the British East India Company during the Anglo-Mysore Wars.
• He crafted long iron tubes, filled them with gunpowder and fastened them to bamboo poles to create the predecessor of the modern rocket.
• With a range of about 2 km, these rockets were the best in the world at that time and caused as much fear and confusion as damage.
• Due to them, the British suffered one of their worst ever defeats in India at the hands of Tipu.

Indian heritage is one of the richest and oldest among the world. From the time of ancient India, scientiﬁc and technological developments were done. Many famous mathematicians from India contributed a lot in the development of theories that we still use and applied in the majority of ﬁelds. Indian civilization has a long recorded history of scientiﬁc culture that goes back to more than 5000 years. Indian heritage has been known for its various developments like gemstone therapy, ayurvedic medicine, physics, farming, literature and many more.