• Studies in the History of Natural Sciences NO.2 2006

                            Studies in the History of Natural Sciences  NO.2  2006 

Alchemy and the Copper-Smelting in Song Dynasty    HAN Jishao

Abstract Smelting copper from Danshui (CuSO4·5H2O) was a major revolution in technology, which played an important role in the economy of Song dynasty. This paper introduces the history of using Dantong (CuSO4·5H2O) in Chinese alchemy. The paper thinks that the method of smelting from Danshui comes from laboratory alchemy. Furthermore, it deems that laboratory alchemy had a great impact on the social economy of Song dynasty.

Key words smelting copper from Danshui (CuSO4·5H2O), laboratory alchemy, Song dynasty, Zhang Qian



Coin-Casting Technology of the Six Dynasties       SHI Jilong,   CHENG Lixian,   ZHOU Weirong,   DONG Yawei,   WANG Changsui

Abstract The development of traditional Chinese coin-casting technology underwent three periods: upright casting moulds (from the Spring and Autumn Period to the Western Han Dynasty, 8th century B.C.—A.D. 1st century), stack casting (from the Western Han Dynasty to the Six Dynasties, A.D. 1st century—6th century) and sand casting (from the Sui and Tang Dynasties to the Qing Dynasty, 6th century—20th century). During the Six Dynasties, stack casting was fully developed. This kind of special casting is featured by adopting the double-faced-pattern clay coin moulds, with one, four or eight half cavities of coin in each face of the mould. When the coin moulds are stacked through the cooperation of the upper coin mould and the nether one, whole cavity of the coins is formed. The coin casting technology of the Six Dynasties is noted for its superb artistry and profound scientific knowledge. It also perfects China's traditional coin-casting technology with clay moulds, and quickly arouses attention in fields of numismatics and history of metallurgy. This paper discusses in detail the stack casting with double-faced-pattern clay coin moulds developed in the Six Dynasties.

Key words Six Dynasties, double-faced-pattern clay coin moulds, coin-casting technology, sequence of evolution



Circumference Division System and Its Historical Effect in the Jiuzhi Calendar          JI Yongliang

Abstract Gautama Siddhartha, who was an astronomer in Tang Dynasty, translated and compiled the Jiuzhi Calendar. He introduced the 360° circumference division system into China for the first time. Despite there was a lack of the corresponding concept of angle in the Jiuzhi Calendar, the introduction of 360°division system effected the improvement of the calculation in contemporaneous Chinese calendrical astronomy. But this did not turn the Chinese angle measurement into the angle metrology. By reviewing Gautama Siddhartha's efforts , the reasons why the 360°division system were not accepted in Tang Dynasty are analyzed,and special emphasis is laid on the research of its effects on astronomy and mathematics as well as its significance for the study of metrology history.

Key words Gautama Siddhartha, Jiuzhi Calendar, 360°circumference division system, angle metrology



Revisiting Bhaskara's Formula of the Sphere's Surface Area             ZHAO Jiwei

Abstract With the knowledge of trigonometric functions and projection known by Bhaskara, two reconstructive proofs of Bhaskara's formula of the surface area of a sphere, the methods of crescent and zone, are given by the principles of reconstructing ancient proofs. It can thus be concluded that Bhaskara not only held primitive ideas of limit, but also had gained significant achievements in the field of calculus of curved surface. As a result, some traditional views on Bhaskara are deliberated.

Key words Bhaskara,calculus, projection, semi-crescent shape, zone



A Study of Theriaca:As Regards the Opium-Containing Prescription Starting to Be Spread into China            WANG Jichao

Abstract Basing on the fact that Theriaca, a prescription that contains opium was presented to the throne as a gift in the 2nd year of Emperor Qianfeng's reign(667), scholars generally hold that it was in 667 that the prescription in question first came to be spread into China. Similar prescriptions containing opium had been quite popular in India and West Asia before the Sui and Tang Dynasties, and they were probably introduced into China before Theriaca did, of which the ophalmology of India might serve as a medium.

Key words Theriaca, opium,Indian ophalmology



A Preliminary Study of the Rigui Tufa by Didace de Pantoja and Sun Yuanhua:Together with a Discussion on the Dials from the Tianwen Lue in Oxford University Library

XU Jie, SHI Yunli

Abstract A detailed comparison from both textual and technical angles shows that the Rigui Tufa (the Drawings and Methods of Sundials) by Didace de Pantoja and Sun Yuanhua contains basically the same content as both the first part of Lu Zhongyu's manuscript on sundials and Johann Adam Schall von Bell's and Zhu Que's book with the same title, which in turn are both arguably written by Pantoja and Sun. Meanwhile, there are also obvious connections between the book of Pantoja and Sun and that of Xu Chaojun with the same title.

Key words sundials, Didace de Pantoja, Sun Yuanhua, Xu Chaojun



Jueyi Shuxue:The Earliest Probability Book  in Chinese with Laplacian Probability Style        WANG Youjun

Abstract Jueyi Shuxue is the earliest book on probability in Chinese, and also the only Chinese book on probability in nineteenth century. It was translated into Chinese from an English book by the Chinese mathematician Hua Hengfang(1833—1902)and the British missionary John Fryer(1839—1928)in 1880. However, the original work of Jueyi Shuxue at all times was an unresolved question. It was found that there was only one version on the origin of Jueyi Shuxue—— Thomas Galloway's article named ‘probability’ in Encyclopaedia Britannica (8th ed. 1859). The original work of Jueyi Shuxue provides a basic background for the study of the history of probability in modern China. Thomas Galloway's article is a book that has the typical Laplacian probability style. So the influence of Laplace's theory of probability on China was mainly carried out through this book. In this paper the contexts of each chapter in the book are discussed in detail. In addition, the style of translating Jueyi Shuxue is also briefly inquired into.

Key words history of probability, Laplacian Probability style, Jueyi Shuxue



Translation and Evolution of Physiological Terms in Modern China           YUAN Yuan

Abstract Modern physiology is one of the basic subjects of Western medicine. Along with the spread of Western medicine into China, a large number of new physiological terms was produced.Through being used, filtered and selected by the society, some of these terms were eliminated while some of them have continued to be in use up to now.The translation and evolution of these terms in China during the Ming-Qing period are an important part of the history of Chinese physiology.This thesis looks back upon the historical process of the translation and unification of physiological terms and studies the problem of physiological terms in China during the Ming-Qing period.

Key words physiology, terms, evolution



On Gao Pingzi's Astronomical-Calendrical Study            NIU Weixing

Abstract This paper first gives a brief description of Gao Ping's academic career as well as an outline of his writings. It then points out that a general method of translating and interpreting ancient astronomical and calendrical knowledge with modern theories could be recognized through Gao's astronomical-calendrical study, which is exemplified by the various papers embodied in the Selected Writings on Astronomical-Calendrical Study by Gao Pingzi. A method with deep Western influence for proving facts and truths with figures and images, and an approach of textual research associated with modern astronomy, which were generally applied in Gao's writings, is also discussed in detail. An impurturbable and impersonal opinion upon the Chinese astronomical-calendrical problems given under a grand view of modern astronomy by Gao Pingzi, is further remarked. It is finally remarked that with respect to the specific astronomical-calendrical problems studied by Gao, and in view of the modern Chinese academic tradition of the history of astronomy, Gao's astronomical-calendrical study has an important significance of succeeding to the predecessors and bridging the successors.

Key words Gao Pingzi, astronomical-calendrical study, Selected Writings on Astronomical- Calendrical Study by Gao Pingzi