One of the main characters in Amin Maalouf's Samarcand is philosopher, poet and mathematician Omar Khayyam of Persia. Born in 1048, he was to change the way people viewed the world. Not only did he calculate the number of days in a year accurately by six decimals, but his calculation has only one day error every 5000 years whereas the Gregorian Calendar has one every 3330 years. He also proved to people around him, among them prominent scholar and philosopher Imam Ghazali (see previous post about him), that the universe did not revolve around earth but that infact earth revolved on its own axis.
A lunar crater and an asteroid have both been named Omar Khayyam after him.
Films have been made about his amazing life. Back in 1957 a Hollywood film starring Cornel Wilde was made, and in my old copy of an Agatha Christie book (Death in the Air) from 1946, a book of poems by Omar Khayyam called Rubaiyaat of Omar Khayyam (meaning quatrains, referring to the style of four lines of poetry) was on second place of New Avon Library's Best Selling Titles of that year in America.
More recently however, in 2005 Iranian filmmaker Kayvan Mashayekh filmed and came out with a movie titled The Keeper: The Legend of Omar Khayyam with actors like Vanessa Redgrave.
View the trailor here.