• Studies in the History of Natural Sciences NO.4 2004

Studies in the History of Natural Sciences  NO.4 2004




Newton's Alchemy:A Noble Philosophy? ……YUAN Jiangyang

【Abstract】 This paper gives a modification for B. J. T. Dobbs' understanding of Newton's alchemy. It points out that the theoretical foundation of Newton's alchemy is Boyle's corpuscular philosophy which, in Newton's case, is not simply a metaphysical hypothesis away from the practice of natural philosophy, and that it is not reasonable to maintain that Newton did not try to unify the alchemical tradition with the mechanical philosophy until 1675. After 1675, Newton turned into a new approach which throws light on the corruptibility rather than the penetrability of alchemical agents, and that tells where Newton's probe on alchemy differs from Boyle's.




The Early Diffusion of Cybernetics in China (1929-1966)……PENG Yongdong

【Abstract】 This thesis illustrates the early diffusion of cybernetics in China. It is based on an analysis of three successive stages in history, namely, the cooperation between Norbert Wiener and Chinese scholar Li Yurong(1929-1949) , the acceptance of the concept of cybernetics in China (1949-1955) , and the discussion and further studies of cybernetics by scholars at home (1956-1966) since PRC's Twelve-Year Plan for the Development of Science and Technology was made. The focus is put on the rising and evolution of cybernetic studies in China between 1956-1966. Two substantive driving forces have contributed to the successful diffusion of cybernetics in China if philosophic problems of cybernetics are considered first; one came from introductions to the works concerning Russian references and translations, another came from Chinese researchers in the circle of engineering theory under the guidance of H. S. Tsien and his Engineering Cybernetics, especially in terms of automatization, aviation and computers studies. The thesis also attempts to prove that the early diffusion of cybernetics, which took place in a particular social-political circumstance in China in 1950-60s,had pared the way for the coming flourish in the studies on"Three Theories" ( cybernetics , information theory,and system theory)right after Cultural Revolution. Finally,for a better understanding of the diffusion of cybernetics in China, some thoughts on the relations among science, society, and politics are given.




Misconception About the Birth of Cell by M. J. Schleiden and Theodor Schwann in Founding the Theory of Cell……SUN Yilin

【Abstract】 Founded by M. J. Schleiden and Theodor Schwann,the theory of cell is one of the three great discoveries of 19th century science. In the course of its creation, there existed a deficiency that was prone to be neglected by people. Schleiden and Schwann advanced a wrong conclusion that the birth of the cell is the same as the crystals of inorganic substance. This congenital deficiency is mainly due to the technology of microscope and probably being influenced to a certain extent by the then popular spontaneous generation of life.




An Early History of the Jing-Mai Doctrine:Qi,Yin-Yang and Mystic Numbers……HAN Jianping

【Abstract】 The first idea of vessel of ancient Chinese was gained from the association with the visible vein on the surface of body. Under the impact of "the View of the Body" of Qi,the ancient physician came to think that pulses are the beats of Qi, and then invented the pulse diagnosis to understand the state of Qi in body. The view of the vessel thus began to undergo a deep change. Some ancient physicians theorized a Yin-Yang theory of vessel in the foot, and pointed out the route of these vessels. Influenced by the mystic numbers of 6 for Heaven and 5 for Earth, ancient physicians inosculated different theories of the vessel into a theory of 11 Pulses, which became the embryo of the theory of the classic Jing-Mai.




Selected Readings of Ancient Literature Concerning Zhang Heng's Seismograph: A New Consideration of the Function of the Instrument……ZHAO Guanfeng

【Abstract】 Based on an analysis of relevant literature about Zhang Heng's seismograph, this paper shows that the description of the instrument (except the description of its structure) from the Biography of Zhang Heng in the History of the Later Han Dynasty is not quite compatible with other records from the same period. On the other hand, from the spread of the designing thought of the instrument in ancient China, it is very clear that the doubts about the instrument had appeared from very early times,and were becoming more and more obvious and strong. Judging from the fact that all later records of the seismograph did not provide us more information than Fan Ye did, it is completely reasonable to look upon Fan's record as an isolated piece of evidence that can not be reconfirmed with other independent sources. Combining all of these considerations, the paper intends to venture that Zhang Heng did make a seismograph. The instrument did not function according to the original intention of designing because of the limitation of developing level of science and technology in the Eastern Han Dynasty,and was thus gradually forgotten by ancient people. Zhang Heng's thought of designing, however,had a scientific and rational facet. In addition, he was also the first one in the history of mankind who ever systematically studied the instrument for earthquake monitoring. That is why his seismograph occupies a high position in the history of science.




A Preliminary Discourse on the Management of Astronomical Documents in the Song Dynasty……DONG Yuyu, GUAN Zengjian

【Abstract】 Song Dynasty's astronomical documents,whether in the inheritance and innovation of contents or in the system of management, had reached an unprecedent level of prosperity. By inheriting , acquiring via wars, soliciting from the society, and exchanging with other countries, the Government collected a vast amount of astronomical documents. In order to preserve these documents, the Government specially built libraries and pavilions and worked out scientific measures of compiling and collating, all of which were helpful to the inheritance and renewal of astronomical knowledge. Making use of such documents, some intellectuals made remarkable achievements in astronomy.




Mining and Smelting Technologies for Gold and Silver in Song Dynasty……WANG Lingling

【Abstract】 During the Song Dynasty, the mining process of gold was recorded in Yu Di Ji Sheng ( Memoir for the Wonders on Land). Records on the application of cupellation and ore-burning to silver mining appeared in Ben Gao Tu Jing (Illustrated Manual of Materia Medica) and Long Quan Xian Zhi ( Annals of Longquan County). Such records not only confirm that Song Dynasty's mining had a technical base for the prosperous development from then on but also provided convincing references for researching the developing progress of the mining and smelting technologies in ancient China.







On the Irrelevancy of the Chinese Translation of " Chemistry" with James Hudson Taylor……LIU Kwang-Ting

【Abstract】 A conclusion was stated that the term " Huaxue" was coined as the Chinese translation of "chemistry" no later than the end of the fourth year of Xian-Feng (January 1855). No relevancy of such a translation with James Hudson Taylor could be found.