• Studies in the History of Natural Sciences NO.4 2006

Studies in the History of Natural Sciences  NO.4 2006 

Calendar-Testing in the Song Calendar Reform and Ancient Chinese Planetary Astrology

SUN Xiaochun

(Institute for the History of Natural Science, CAS, Beijing 100010, China)

Abstract Calendar-testing was one of the key processes of astronomical calendar reforms in ancient China. The scope of the testing expanded from using solar and lunar events in Han times to using planetary events in the Tang and the Song dynasties. This not only reflects that progresses were made in calendrical techniques during the period, but also reveals the reciprocal relation between the planetary astrology and the calendar. Based on the investigation and analysis of the planetary events used towards the end of 10th century Qianxiang calendar-testing of the Song Dynasty, it is argued that the ancient Chinese planetary astrology had not only astrological significances, but also bore very much on the calendar. Planetary observations became an important technical factor for the advancement of the calendar. It is shown that most of ancient Chinese records of planetary events are reliable, being descriptions of actual celestial events. The fabrication out of political purposes of such events as “Mars staying at the Xin star” and “total conjunction of five planets” must have been rare exceptions. Furthermore, in ancient China, the calendar reforms were not only scientific activities, but also the state's political events. The calendar, with its computational techniques for celestial events, planetary events for instance, always made progress, as well as was constrained in the tension between the technical and the political, state and science.

Key words calendar, calendar reform, calendar-testing, planetary astrology, the Qianxiang Li, calendar and politics, the Song dynasty

An Investigation on the Suanxue Keyi in the Late Qing Dynasty

LI Zhaohua

(School of Mathematics,Tianjin Normal University,Tianjin 300387,China)

Abstract As the product of educational reform during the late Qing Dynasty (1840—1911),Suanxue Keyi (Examination Paper of Mathematics) is a kind of important mathematical literature at its time. Based on the collected Suanxue Keyi literature, this paper discusses its achievement and level of mathematical teaching then by analyzing typical problems and answers, and points out its shortage and the main cause for the shortage to appear. The result of investigation shows that main contents of the literature belong to constant mathematics, where the majority of the achievements come from traditional Chinese mathematics,and meanwhile no better appreciation and understanding of variable mathematics transmitted into China then can be gained from the literature. This phenomenon is more or less consistent with the situation of mathematics developing in the late Qing Dynasty. One major reason for the appearance of the phenomenon is due to the negative influence of mathematical thought that put undue emphasis on the practical side of mathematics.

Key words the Late Qing Dynasty,Suanxue Keyi (Examination Paper of Mathematics),mathematical education,mathematical thought

Integrated Surveys of Natural Resources During the “Great Leap Forward”

ZHANG Jiuchen

(Institute for the History of Natural Science, CAS, Beijing, 100010,China)

Abstract After the People's Republic of China (P.R.C.) was founded, the integrated surveys of natural resources, which aimed to gather basic information, became the main task of the massive economic construction. As a national scientific research center and with the advantage of being multi-disciplinary, the Chinese Academy of Sciences played an important role in the survey. This paper takes the survey in Northwest of China as an example. The paper analyses the social, academic and political background of the new mission,summarizes the work-style in special social environment,and reviews the process of establishing new subjects. It attempts to approach the relationship among science, society and politics.

Key words survey of natural resources, “Great Leap Forward”, glaciology, desert science

American Missionaries and the Founding of Nursing in China (1880—1930)

ZHEN Cheng

(Center for the History of Medicine, Peking University, Beijing 100083, China)

Abstract Accompained by Western medicine,modern nursing was brought to China by missionaries. The missionaries began to propagate Western nursing through setting up dispensaries,hospitals and nurses' schools. This article reviews what the American missionaries did for the development of nursing in China from 1880 to 1930,especially briefing the work of the two missionaries Anna Dryden Wolf(1890—?) and Nina Diadamia Gage(1883—1946),and the founding and role of the Chinese Nursing Association. Lastly,the favourable and unfavourable factors for developing the Western nursing are pointed out in the paper.

Key words missionary,nursing,America,China

Study on the Stone-working Skills of Traditional Chinese Architecture During and Before the Northern and Southern Dynasties

LI Zhen

(Institute of Architecture and Urban Planning, Tongji University, Shanghai 200092, China)

Abstract Thjs paper probes into the development of stone-working skills of China's traditional architecture before the Northern and Southern Dynasties. In the Neolithic Age, the Chinese already knew how to use fire to quarry stone, and there were specialized people for stone-working in the early stage of the Slave Society. But the stone-working of traditional Chinese architecture was still in its initial stage before the middle of Han Dynasty, and stone was not used widely in practice. After the middle of Han Dynasty, stone-working skills gradually came into maturity, witnessed rapid development, and formed a set of working procedures. Up to the later period of the Northern and Southern Dynasty, stone-working skills were almost the same as what they are in modern times.

Key words quarrying, stone-working, skills

The Grand Voyages of Zheng He and the Giraffe-Tribute

ZHANG Zhijye

(Center for General Education, Shih Hsin University, China Taiwan)

Abstract The giraffe grown in Africa was mistaken for the Qilin (Chinese unicorn) in the Ming Dynasty. As a symbol of the Holy Emperor on the throne, Qilin became a target of Zheng's scouting navigation. Sorting out the Qilin data of Zheng's grand voyages, we have some important finds: 1. Bengal's Qilin-tribute in 1414 has nothing to do with Zheng He. 2. Bengal's Qilin-tribute spurs Zheng on his fourth voyage to the Persian Gulf, and spurs Malindi to pay Qilin as a tribute in 1415. 3. All of Zheng's fifth, sixth and seventh voyages kept some historical data about Qilin. 4. The giraffe of the Qilin-tribute in the 1433 might be bought from Mecca. 5. Searching for African specialties such as giraffes may be one of the reasons why Zheng made his voyage to East Africa.

Key words The Grand Voyages of Zheng He, Qilin, giraffe

Never at Rest: Decennial of the Passing Away of Professor R. S. Westfall

ZHAO Zhenjiang

(P.O.Box 5122, No.21. Beijing 100094, China)

Abstract R. S. Westfall was a famous historian of science, especially for his Newtonian study. Both his life and his academic achievements contained in his six books are described in this paper.

Key words R. S. Westfall, life, work, Newtonian study

Shiing-Shen Chern in the Institute of Mathematics of Academia Sinica:A Supplement and Rectification of Biography of S. S. Chern by Zhang Dianzhou and Wang Shanping

GUO Jinhai

(Institute for the History of Natural Science, CAS, Beijing 100010, China)

Abstract At present, the Biography of S. S. Chern by Zhang Dianzhou and Wang Shanping is an important book to introduce Shiing-Shen Chern's life and academic activities in a most comprehensive way. This article explores some events of Chern happened during 1946 to 1948, which are not mentioned or thoroughly and correctly told in the Biography. These events include some contacts and activities between Chern and the Tsing Hua University, Chern's work plan for the Institute of Mathematics of Academia Sinica and its results, and Chern's efforts for inviting Hermann Weyl to visit China. By the way, the article corrects several mistakes of the Biography. The author points out that though Shiing-Shen Chern chose the Academia Sinica to work after his return from America, he made some contributions for the Tsing Hua University. As the actual leader of the Institute of Mathematics, he tried to push forward the development of the institute. His work plan, however, did not completely come true.

Key words Shiing-Shen Chern, Institute of Mathematics of Academia Sinica, Tsing Hua University, Hermann Weyl, Biography of S. S. Chern