• Studies in the History of Natural Sciences NO.1 2004

Studies in the History of Natural Sciences  NO.1 2004




Five Typical Simulated Tests and a Physico -Chemical Examination of Autumn Mineral in Ancient China……ZHANG Binglun,GAO Zhiqiang,YE Qing

【Abstract】 This article simulates an examination of th e five methods of preparation for "autumn mineral",which include four of the six methods considered by Dr.J.Needham and Dr.G.D.Lu as "Chinese iatrochemists between the 10th and the 16th centuries succeeded in preparing steriod hormones in a relatively purified form from urine"but have not been subjected to simulat ed examination or have been subjected to simulated examination but are still con troversial,and another method,Ru Lian Fa,thought by Zhu Yaping as containing steroid hormones.The authors'physico-chemical inspection of the resulting prod ucts indicates that autumn mineral is not a preparation of steroid hormones but a drug of inorganic salts or other organic compounds.




The Steelyard Clepsydra:Its Structure and Prin ciple of Steady Flow……HUA Tongxu

【Abstract】 The steelyard clepsydra,a special type of c lepsydra,had been a chief time-keeping instrument during the Sui-Tang period a nd the earlier stage of Northern Song dynasty.Li Lan's steelyard cleps ydra and the large clepsydra are basically the same as regards their principle o f steady flow.They both connect the siphon with the float,so that water is relea sed when its flow is kept extremely stable.Analysis of the relevant historical m aterials of China,Japan and Korea shows that the clepsydra on horseback is quite probably a small steelyard clepsydra .




The Methods of Ascertaining the Direction of Eclipse in the Late-Ming and Early-Qing Dynasties……NING Xiaoyu

【Abstract】 The records of the direction of eclipse based on long-term observation have been indispensable content in ancient Chinese traditional calendars since the Eastern Han Dynasty. It was not until the end of Ming that quantitative calculation and observation were carried on. This paper studies the methods of observation and calculation in Xinfa Suanshu, the calculation in Xia'oan Xinfa and illustration of Mei Wending a nd Lixiang Kaocheng, compares these five methods and shows their similarities and differences. In addition , the paper manages to explain some terms like Fanxiang, Cixiang and Dingxiang which were used by Wang Xichan and quite difficult to understand, traces back to the reasons resulting in the views that Wang had ascertained the direction of eclipses in the light of solar face or lunar face aod denies that Wang is the first man who invented the methods of calculation.




A Primary Inquiry into Seki Takakazu's Miscellaneous Memoranda on Astronomy and Mathematics……DENG Kehui

【Abstract】 This paper first studies Seki Takakazu' s Miscellaneous Memoranda on Astronomy and Mathematics. Th e records of eclipse in the Spring and Autumn Period and Cizhenzhiceyan are analyzed. The paper draws a correct inference to Seki's u nique calculation pocess in his Rijingshice and reaches a conclu sion that the works of Seki Takakazu were based on his own observation.The proc ess is connected with Seki Takakazu's Kyu Enshuritsu Jutsu and Kyu Kohai Jutsu in Wasan. Some notes on eclipse and man y graphs are studied. The paper attaches great importance to Seki's graphs for eclipse . In a word, Seki's studies of the Shous hi Calendar opened up a new research field. Moreover, some of his studie s surpass those of Chinese scholars of the corresponding period. A series of Sek i's works on mathematical astronomy stood for the level of traditional Lisuan in Japan.




Weyl's Unified Field Theory and Its Influence……HAO Liuxiang

【Abstract】 The fact that gauge invariance in modern p hysics is the English translation of Eich Invarianz in Weyl's work at least shows the kinship of these two theories. In this article, the author first explores the theoretical framework of unified field theory developed by Weyl by means of scale invariance around the year 1920 and then investigates refutation s of physicists (especially Einstein and Pauli) as well as Weyl's defe nce against these objections. As for the influence of Weyl's theory, t he author emphasizes three points. Firstly, these objections induced Weyl's research on the nature of metric space and thus led to the birth of E. Car tan's G-structure and Weyl's theory of Lie groups. Secondly , the following unified field theories, including Kaluza-Klein's, Edd ington's, Einstein's and Schrdinger's, should ac knowledge their debts to Weyl's idea of generalizing Levi-Civitta con nections. Finally, the revised edition of Weyl's theory has obtained a brand-new meaning in the framework of quantum mechanics, that is, the principl e of local gauge invariance, elucidated by Weyl himself.




The Translation of Xia Xiao Zheng into Modern Chinese and Its Ev aluation……YOU Xiuling

【Abstract】 The article A Review on Xia Xiao Zheng and Its Thought of Harmonious Int egration of Heaven,Earth and Human Being by Prof.Guo Wentao consists of four sections,which can be further contracted to two main parts.The first part i ncludes an introduction to the book Xia Xiao Zheng and the trans lation of some of its classic text into modern Chinese.The second part involves an analytical explication of the text based on the theory of modern agricultural ecology,and a comparison between the essence of the classic text and the tradit ional thought of harmonious integration of Heaven,Earth and Human Being. The book Xia Xiao Zheng contains mainly phenological description s of animals and plants covering 60 items dispersed in the 12 months of a year.B ut in Guo's article,25 items were found wrongly construed or ill expla ined;5 items concerning farm work and daily life were improperly translated.Not only the number of mistakes amounted to 30,but also they were serious in nature, indicating that the article was hurrly prepared by Guo who failed to have a soun d understanding of the spirit of the original text before getting down to write. In this paper,all these problems are given full discussion,and the wrongly const rued words and sentences are corrected against their historical background,and i ntrinsic implication of part of the text expounded. In Guo's article,two big problems in explanation of the thought of har monious integration of Heaven,Earth and Human Being are conspicuous.They are:imp roper evaluation of the thought and confused conceptions in the work of evaluati on.That is why Guo's view seems empty rhetoric and devoid of content.T his paper offers supplementary elucidation of the classic text along the path of historical development and historical arena expansion,and provides statistical analysis linked to phenological materials from the minority nationalities in Chi na.The paper might be helpful to readers for better and further understanding th e essence of Xia Xiao Zheng.




Deliberation on Whether "Ice-Making in Summer" in Ancient China Could Be Achieved……HOU Yude

【Abstract】 The record of "ice-making in summer" i n ancient China has a history of more than 2000 years. Mr. Hong Zhenhuan had made a study of it, but the argumentation of his conclusion was not quite convincing. The interrelated work and experiment of Li Zhichao and Zhao Hongjun seemed to have thoroughly made the problem clear. However, after a restudy of this issue, the author gets a result totally different from that of Mr. Li and Mr. Zhao.




Wang Chong's Understanding of the Comparative Size of the Heavens and the Earth……GUAN Zengjian

【Abstract】 With regard to the understanding of the co mparative size of the heavens and the earth, they were thought to be similar to each other by the ancient Chinese. That's the tradition of recognizing the prob lem in ancient China. But Wang Chong in the Eastern Han Dynasty raised a view th at the size of the place lived by human beings was rather smaller than that of t he heavens by analysing the fact that the direction of the polestar was always i n the north while the size of the rising sun was always same whenever they were looked from the east or the west. His demonstration was similar to that of Ptole my in ancient Greece. Such an opinion of Wang Chong was based on his thinking mo del of paying attention to the quantum of matters concerned. His opinion was neg lected in ancient China and hadn't played any role in the develoment of ancient Chinese astronomy.




A Milestone in the Field of the History of Chinese Astronomy——An Essay Review on the Volume on Astronomy of the History of Chi nese Science and Technology……SUN Xiaochun

【Abstract】 This essay reviews one volume of the seri es the History of Chinese Science and Technology, the Volume on As tronomy by Prof. Chen Meidong. Chen has been one of the leading figures in the f ield of the history of Chinese astronomy. This volume can be considered as a sum mary of his work during his 30 years of research and as a book absorbing researc h findings by contemporary Chinese scholars. The volume, therefore, reflects the general state of the field, and constitutes a milestone in the course of studie s on the subject. In this essay the author compares the volume with two preceding works on the sam e subject. One is the Zhongguo Tianwenxue Shi (History of Chine se Astronomy) (hereafter referred to as the Blue Book, from the color of the boo k's cover) by a group of researchers, including Chen, published in 198 1; the other is Joseph Needham's Volume III, Section 20, "Heavenly Sc iences", of the Science and Civilization in China, published in Cambridge in 19 59. While the former represented the state of the field in 1980 and has long bee n the essential reference for students of Chinese astronomy, the second has been influential world wide because it presented a concise description of the nature of ancient Chinese astronomy. The historiographic idea of this volume is very similar to that of the Blue Book . The book is aimed at presenting Chinese astronomy as a forerunner of modern as tronomy. Its contents are organized around several topics, including astrono mical observations and measurements, calendars, stars observations, star maps an d catalogues, instruments, cosmological beliefs, and so on. This volume has made remarkable progress in both scope and depth of all those topics. The calendar i s Chen's research specialty, and the volume provides an authoritative picture of the development of Chinese calendrical computation and technology. Th e book also includes biographical sketches of more than one hundred Chinese astr onomers, a tremendous effort to bring astronomical facts into the historical con texts. This is something that is lacking in the Blue Book. On many important iss ues, such as on the Shi Shi Xing Jing star catalogue, and on the setting of the beginnings of calendrical years during the Zhou dynasty, this vo lume provides in- depth accounts and analyses, either by summarizing works by others, or by presenting his own findings. Of course, there are some other issue s, such as on the Twenty- eight lunar lodges and on the mathematical reconstru ction of calendrical computation, the volume fails to present results of up- t o- date scholarship. The scope of Needham's section on Chinese astronomy is certainly not a match to that of this volume. For example, the calendar is simply ignored in th e Needham book. But in spite of that limit in content, Needham gives a very prec ise and persuasive picture of Chinese astronomy--its political nature, its pol ar and equatorial system, its virtue in empirical observation, etc. While Chen' s book is considerably voluminous, it refuses to spend any space on dis cussing the nature and characteristics of Chinese astronomy. In the opinion of t he author, this constitutes a serious shortcoming of this excellent work. The au thor is also induced to raise a historiographic question: Should the study of Ch inese astronomy go beyond the excavation of forerunners of modern astronomy and expand into the sphere of social and cultural studies of Chinese sciences? He st rongly proposes Yes. He thinks the volume by Chen will in fact become an invalua ble reference for such efforts. Therefore, he heartily applauds the contribution made by Prof. Chen Meidong in the form of this volume.




A Review of The Annotations for Suanshu Shu Written on Zhangjiashan Han Tomb Bamboo Strips by Peng Hao……JI Zhigang

【Abstract】 This paper gives a review of The An notations for Suanshushu Written on Zhangjiashan Han Tomb Bamboo Strips by Peng Hao. It is known that the transcription of Bamboo Suanshushu was first published in Cultural Relics, No. 9, 2000. But the transcription is difficult to read, because in it there are many misprinted, miscopied, missing words and mistakes. Much is done in Peng's book to restore the order of bamboo strips, to collate the miscopied words and to correct the m istaken numbers. Based on analysis of historical background and archaeological d iscoveries, Peng Hao concluded that in Suanshushu many problems did not appear at the same time, and that some problems were closely related to the official affairs of lower government administration during the pre-Qin peri od. So his statement is very important for exploring the evolution of mathematic s from pre-Qin period to Han dynasty. But, through critical reading, the paper points out that in Peng's book there are some wrong collations and annotations which were made by Peng himself and some mistakes in Suanshushu which he failed to correct. Although Peng's book is really praiseworthy in prov iding facilities for further study, the numerous defects in it make readers feel regretable indeed.