• Studies in the History of Natural Sciences NO.2 2007

Studies in the History of Natural Sciences  NO.2 2007 

A Study on Parallax Theory in Ancient China with Shicha Algorithm As an Example

TANG Quan,

(Department of Mathematics, Xianyang Normal College, Xianyang712000,China)

QU Anjing

(Research Center for the History of Mathematics and Science,Northwest University, Xi'an710069, China)

Abstract Shicha algorithm is an important algorithm of solar eclipse theory. To explain the method of such an algorithm and its precision is of great significance for us to evaluate objectively the solar eclipse in ancient China. Based on previous researches, this paper illustrates the real meanings of Shicha algorithm, reveals the connection between Shicha and shicha and concludes that shicha algorithm is one part of solar-eclipse-magnitude algorithm. The paper discusses the history of Shicha algorithm and divides the history of Shicha algorithm into several stages according to its characters. It also analyses the precision of Shicha in Xuanming Calendar, Jiyuan Calendar and Shoushi Calendar. The conclusion about the precision of Shicha not only proves that the sign of qicha and kecha is correct, but also points out that the shicha algorithm designed by the ancient Chinese astronomers is an excellent one.

Key words China, shicha,qicha, kecha, shicha

A Further Study on Hushigeyuan Shu in Shoushi Calendar

DENG Kehui

(Dept. of History of Science, Inner Mongolia Normal Univ., Huhhot 010022,China)

Abstract The content of the transformation of sphere coordinates in the Yuan Shi (History of the Yuan Dynanty), and the Ming Shi (History of the Ming Dynasty) is made up and proofread in this paper. Some important rules and methods are further analyzed. The paper also compares the agency of transformation of ecliptic and equator coordinates in Ptolemy's Almagest and the Shoushi Calendar with the modern theory. It concludes that there is nearly no discrepancy of it and further probes the reasons.

Key words Shoushi Calendar, Theorem of Hushigeyuan Shu, unit system, Huiyuan Shu

New Research on Bin-tie


(Institute of Historical Metallurgy and Materials, Beijing University of Science and Technology, Beijing 100083, China)

Abstract As an important material in the history of technological and cultural exchange between China and the West, bin-tie was often used as a type of high quality steel in Chinese texts. Many scholars have done researches on this special product and thought it has relations to Damascene steel, but recent research has given us some new opinions. It is shown that the word bin-tie first appeared in a Buddhist sutra translated from Sanscrit in Sui Dynasty, and was mentioned in Zhou Shu (History of the Zhou Dynasty) and Sui Shu(History of the Sui Dynasty) completed in 636. The earliest explanation of bin-tie is seen in the Yi Qie Jing Yin Yi completed in 807. The word bin might be understood as the iron product from State Jibin as well as being transliterated directly from foreign languages. It was generally used as a special iron or steel product in many places. The history on Liao Dynasty(907—1125)named after bin-tie was fabricated by the rulers of Jin Dynasty (1115—1234). The Bureau of Bin-tie in Yuan Dynasty(1206—1368) was just an office for the management of the smiths and smelters from Central and Southwest Asia. The legend about ores saying that bin-tie could be produced in Hami was most probably referring to meteorolite or crucible. The famous temple of Bin-tie in Taiyuan was simply a site for iron-smelting. Bin-tie was used for making weapons and tools, and even musical instruments and coins. It was first written for its feature of watered pattern in Yun Yan Guo Yan Lu (Record of Things Like Floating Smoke and Passing Clouds)done in late Southern Song Dynasty (1127—1279), in which the patterned bin-tie dagger ought be produced by a general named Shui in the Jin Dynasty. There are still a lot of statements about bin-tie since the Tang Dynasty (618—909). Linguistic study shows that Damascus steel is a word closely related to water patterned process. Archaeometallurgical studies indicate that Damascene steel, well-known for its natural patterns by special crucible smelting and forging process, might be better produced by pulat in Central Asia, rather than wootz in Southwest Asia. So bin-tie is not the same word of Damascus steel. In fact, bin-tie is more like a type of intermediate product like pulat and wootz is really a crucible steel, which might be produced through the co-fusion process developed by Chinese artisans. The patterned bin-tie, or Damascus knife and sword, was first used in China in about the 12th century, only a little later than in Central Asia. There is very little archaeological evidence to show that crucible steel was produced in China from ancient to medieval times, so bin-tie was almost an entirely imported material from outside China all through the historical period. The archaeometallugical study on the Xinjiang Region in the northwest of China might enable us to get a clear understanding of the origin of bin-tie and its transmission.

Key words history of technology, bin-tie, Damascene steel, pulat, wootz, archaeometallurgy

Study on the Technique of Controlling Sheep-Breeding Time by China's Ancient Northern Nomadic Nationality

XIAO Aimin

( Center for Studies of Song History,Hebei University,Baoding 071002,China)

Abstract Northern prairie lies within the continental zone, which is cold and windy in winter. According to the natural growth cycle of sheep (including jumbuck and goat), its oestrus is in autumn and thus lambing is around spring festical time, when it is bitterly cold in the northern prairie, so the lamb is liable to die from coldness. In order to avert lambing in cold winter, the northern nomadic nationality invented a method by which the bearing and breeding of sheep could be controlled artificially. With use of this method, the pregnancy time of a female sheep was postponed. As a result, the birth time of the lamb was in spring time, so the survival rate of the lamb was guaranteed. The Mongols had two methods. One was that the belly of a buck was wrapped up in a carpet, to prevent it from mating with an ewe, which was fit for the small-size feeding in a family. The other was that bucks and ewes grazed separately. They were grazed by the big-size feeding. Mongol's technique was derived form the Turk. The story of the shepherding Su Wu reflects that the Huns had also mastered this technique. Su Wu was a person who shepherded bucks specially. This demonstrated that the northern nomadic nationality from the Huns to the Mongols had mastered the technique of breeding sheep, which was only spread covertly. This technique is the experience summarized from the northern nomadic nationality in its struggle with nature.

Key words northern nomadic nationality,Huns, Turks,Mongols,sheep,breeding technique

New Research Trends in the History of Science in Britain and the United States(1993—2005)

WEI Yidong,

(Research Center for Philosophy of Science and Technology in Shanxi University,Taiyuan 030006,China)

WANG Baohong

(Taiyuan Normal College, Taiyuan 030012,China)

Abstract Study on the history of science in Britain and the United States, which is the most active and the most developed, stands for the developmental direction of history of science all over the world. Through metrically analyzing the contents in the three journals of ISIS, History of Science and British Journal for the History of Science (1993—2005),this paper reveals the hot points and developmental trends in studies on the history of science in recent decades, and brings to light the causes for changes and new trends.

Key words history of science in Britain and the United States, ISIS, History of Science, British Journal for the History of Science, analysis of contents

Statistical Analysis in Studies in the History of Natural Sciences (1996—2005)


(Center for History of Mathematics and Science,Northwest University,Xi'an710069,China;

Statistical Bureau in Hanzhong,Hanzhong 723000, China)

Abstract Using the method of mathematical analysis, this article analyses the statistical data of literature in Studies in the History of Natural Sciences (1996—2005), brings to light the changes of research direction, methods and historical evolution of history of natural science in ten years through one aspect, expounds the significance and impact of this journal in China and abroad by using the theory of bibliometrics, and makes a trend analysis and suggestions about the development of history of natural sciences in China and the journal in the future.

Key words Studies in the History of Natural Sciences, literature,history, of natural sciences, statistic

Some Questions Related to the Research of Ancient Chinese Glasses

LI Qinghui,

(Shanghai Institute of Optics and Fine Mechanics, CAS, Shanghai 201800, China)

GAN Fuxi,

(Shanghai Institute of Optics and Fine Mechanics, CAS, Shanghai 201800; Fudan University,Shanghai 200433, China)

GU Donghong

(Shanghai Institute of Optics and Fine Mechanics, CAS, Shanghai 201800, China)

Abstract Determination of the chemical compositon system is one of the major aspects in the research of ancient Chinese glass. In this study, methods such as external-beam proton induced X-ray emission (PIXE) and inductively coupled plasm atomic emission spectrometry (ICP-AES) are used to analyse the chemical compositon of the ancient Chinese glasses of prehistoric times. Combining the research results about ancient glasses of other scholars at home and abroad, some problems related to the ancient Chinese glasses,mainly before the Esatern Han Dynasty, are analyzed from the point of view of technical research. It is indicated that, to further study the technical development of ancient Chinese glasses, special attention should be paid to the faience, frit, compound glass eye-beads unearhed in China from the Western Zhou to the Warring States and paid to the research of accompanied cultural relics such as turquoise. Research results about the technology of ancient Chinese porcelain and metallurgy are also considered.

 Key words ancient glasses, faience and frit, compound glass eye-beads, technical research

Zheng Xuan and Hooke's Law

LIU Shuyong,

(Department of Physics,Capital Normal University,Beijing 100037,China)

LI Yinshan

(Department of Mechanics,Hebei University of Technology,Tianjin 300130,China)

Abstract This article, which unravels the principle of mechanics of materials, and clarifies Hooke's Law, and its condition found by Zheng Xuan, narrates points differing from Yi Degang's and discusses the problem of history of mechanics.

Key words Zheng Xuan,Hooke's Law,mechanics of materials

Gaia: A New Explanation on Ideas About the Earth—An Introduction and Review on Thinking about the Earth

ZHANG Jiuchen

(Institute for the History of Natural Science, CAS, Beijing100010, China)

Abstract Written by the Australian historian of science Prof. David R.Oldroyd, Thinking about the Earth—A History of Ideas in Geology is a general history of geology. The book reveals the history of man's understanding about the earth through different trends and views. Besides analyzing the progress on the earth ideas, it expatiates the author's viewpoint of regarding the earth as a globe of life. The earth, circulating in the universe, has the fundamental nature of life.

Key words Thinking about the Earth—A History of Ideas in Geology, geology, the history of geology, Gaia