• Studies in the History of Natural Sciences NO.4 2007

Studies in the History of Natural Sciences  NO.4 2007 

Research on 34 Ancient Chinese Timing Records of Lunar Occultations of the Planets

LI Yong

(National Astronomical Observatories, CAS, Beijing 100012, China)

Abstract This paper investigates the methods for secular variation of Earth's rotation which applied ancient Chinese astronomical occulting data. All the 34 timing records with the length no more than one night, of lunar occultations of the Planets are collected and their dates and descriptions for celestial phenomena are checked. After comparing to the counting results from contemporary astronomical methods, the paper obtains: 1) The 32 records, about 94% of 34 occults, are confirmed. 2) The 43% occults at a certain night Ye but performed in fact in next morning. 3) The average time length recorded for these occultations has 6.9 hours. The observing time errors of the 32 real occults are from 0.04 to 5.74 hours and the mean value is 1.8 hours. The minimal angular separation are from 0°.02 to 0°.92, and the average is 0°.21. 4) The ancient lunisolar calendars issued and related to the occultations then have the same beginning month called Yin but a few errors are also found for leap month arrangement and some calculations. 5) In applying these data to investigate the secular variation of Earth's rotation, their timing accuracy should be taken into consideration and the superior ones should be selected first.

Key words history of astronomy, astronomical records, lunar occultations of the Planets, Earth's rotation, timing

New Standpoint on the Calendar of State Lu of the Spring and Autumn Period

GUAN Lixing,

(Xi'an Technological University, Xi'an 710032, China)

GUAN Liyan

(Kaifeng University, Kaifeng 475004, China)

Abstract On the basis of the history and present condition in studying calendar of State Lu of the Spring and Autumn Period, this paper proposes the authors humble opinion about reasons for the failure in the study during each period. The authors looks anew closely at important topics in the discussion: installing 12 lunar months by the big dipper; two records in determining the Winter Lunar; “Sanzheng”;a regulation of successively installing a lunar month of 30 days etc. The authors provides date, JD and the Heavenly Stems and Earthly Branches of the beginning of the year in every lunar year of State Lu during 244 years, indicates the year of installing intercalation.Particularly, they make a thorough study on the controversial questions, and demonstrate a principle for reappear calendar of State Lu. Finally, they discuss how to build the first month of lunar year about calendar of each country during the Spring and Autumn Period.

Key words the Spring and Autumn Period, calendar used of State Lu, the beginning of the year,  building the first month of lunar year,  finding a place for intercalary month in the lunar calendar

Sanjia Xinjing Can Be Restored into a Complete Star Chart

SONG Renke

(Ethylene Market, Daqing 163714, Heilongjiang, China)

Abstract Sanjia Xinjing preserved in Dunhung Document P2512, omits 8 constellations and has some errors. Although the constellations may be supplemented according to Kaiyuan Zhanjin, one star is still missing. It was filled in by Pan Nai and Deng Wenkuan based on Tianwen Zhi in Jinshu and Suishu since both of them identified the Tian Jiangjun Constellation as 12 stars, rather than 11 stars in Kaiyuan Zhanjing. Inspired by their ideas that the missing star must be in the 8 missing constellations, the author adds a star by identifying Wenchang Constellation as 7 stars, one more than that of Kaiyuan Zhanjing, while still maintains Tian Jiangjun constellation as 11, on the basis of many sorts of documents, such as Sanjia Xingguan Puzan in Japan (Version), Tianxiang Lieci Fenye Zhi Tu in Korea, and the notes and commentaries in Kaiyuan Zhanjing. In addition, the star of Shengong constellation should be treated as the evolutional outcome of traditional Chinese constellations because it appeared in astrological documents later than Sanjian Xingjing.

Key words Sanjia Xingjing, Kaiyuan Zhanjing, Sanjia Xingguan Puzan, Tianxiang Lieci Fenye Zhi Tu in Korea, Wenchang constellation, Tian Jiangjun constellation,  Shengong constellation

The Timing of Lunar Mansions in Sutra on Taking Auspices by Celestial Constallations and Bodies

LI Hui

(Department for the History and Philosophy of Science, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai 200240, China)

Abstract Depending on the scriptures of Sutra on Taking Auspices by Celestial Constallations and Bodies, this article researches and explains “the months' timing of lunar mansions” and “the days' timing of lunar mansions”, analyzes the method of searching special day's lunar mansion mensions, and finally restores “the timing of lunar mansions” in the sutra.

Key words Sutra on Taking Auspices by Celestial Constallations and Bodies, timing of lunar mansions, the days's timing of lunar mansions

A New Inquiry into the Taoist Text Thirty-six Methods for Bringing Solids into Aqueous Solution

HAN Jishao

(Institute of Religion, Science and Social Studies, Shandong University, Jinan 250100, China)

Abstract Through textual research and analysis on the Taoist text Thirty-six Methods for Bringing Solids into Aqueous Solution in Dao Zang(Taoist Patrology), this article holds that the text in question falls into three parts. The oldest part was written by someone during the Western Han Dynasty, which was the true text of Thirty-six Methods for Bringing Solids into Aqueous Solution. Then a Taoist living between Jin Dynasty and Tang Dynasty added fifteen kinds of aqueous methods. And another seven kinds were added during the Tang Dynasty or Song Dynasty. The article also deems that aqueous methods were originally used for drinking to be immortal.

Key words Thirty-six Methods for Bringing Solids into Aqueous Solution, The Yellow Emperor's Canon of the Nine-Vessel Spiritual Elixir, to be immortal by taking medicine, external alchemy

On the Form of Gongxian and Liaoli in Yingzao Fashi

QIAO Xunxiang

(Department of Architecture, Shenzhen University, Shenzhen 518060, China)

Abstract Yingzao Fashi(Architectural Methods), a very important technological work in Song dynasty, consists of four parts: rules of operation, Gongxian (standards of manpower), Liaoli (standards of material) and illustrations. First, the form of the text is studied, and the method of decomposition and quantative change is found to be important. Moreover, quantative change is researched in detail. Second, the relation of the form and the operation order is discussed and the meaning of operation order is explained. Finally, the evolution of the form of gongxian and liaoli is inspected in order to demonstrate its characteristics and achievements.

Key words Yingzao Fashi (Architectural Methods), Gongxian (standards of manpower), Liaoli (standards of material), form, the method of quantative change, operation order

Zheng Xiaocang:Scientific Poetry, Joseph Needham and Other Things

LIU Dun,

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


(The Needham Research Institute, Cambridge CB3 9AF, UK)

Abstract The modern Chinese educationalist Zheng Xiaocang was expert in Chinese and Western studies, and his calm and unpretentious poetry reflected the man himself. This article describes his life in brief, then focuses on his poems praising science and his connections with Britain and Joseph Needham.

Key words Zheng Xiaocong, Joseph Needham, science, poetry

Notes on the Time of Compiling the Present Version of the Xiahou Yang Mathematical Art

LI Zhaohua

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

Abstract The Abstract of the Xiahou Yang Mathematical Art in Ten Mathematical Manuals emendated by Qian Baocong considers that the time of compiling the present version of the book was between A.D. 762—779. Many scholars have adopted Qian's point of view in their work since the publication of the Ten Mathematical Manuals in A.D. 1963. On the other hand, A Supplementary Research on the Time of Compiling the Present Version of the Xiahou Yang Mathematical Art by Chen Mingguang published in A. D. 1990 considers the time of compiling the book to be between A.D. 788—861. As early as A.D. 1929, A Study of the Xiahou Yang Mathematical Art by Qian Baocong points out that the book was compiled not long after A.D. 780. This paper thinks that the year given by Qian in 1929 for the publication of the book is approximately correct, and furthermore regards the time as about A.D. 785.

Key words present version of the Xiahou Yang Mathematical Art, time of compiling the present version

A Monumental Work with Deep Thoughts and Numerous Merits:Commentary on the Revised and Enlarged Edition of A History of Chinese Printing

YANG Chengkai

(Institute of Linguistics, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Beijing 100732, China)

Abstract As a great work of epoch-making significance, Zhang Xiumin's A History of Chinese Printing covers a lot of subjects, has accurate and reliable materials, makes many adequate and brilliant expositions, and thus enjoys great prestige in the academic circles all over the world. Now its revised and enlarged edition, by the author and Prof. Han Qi, has come off the press. It has been given careful revision, and provided with many new subjects and more accurate expositions. Above all, it contains a large number of important historical materials that are never known before and lots of very rare illustrations. All this endows the new edition with even greater academic value. This article highly appreciates the success of the improvement, and brings up some points for discussion.

Key words Chinese printing, woodblock printing, movable type, multi-colour printing

A Review on al-Jazari's The Book of Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices


(Department for the History of Science & Technology and Archaeometry, University of Science and Technology of China, Hefei 230001, China)

Abstract al-Jazari's The Book of Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices is of essential importance in the research of mediaeval Arabic mechanism. In his book al-Jazari describes how to manufacture his 50 mechanical devices falling into six categories and their operating process. While acknowledging the preciseness and elaboration on al-Jazari's description of his mechanical devices, this review also offers discussion on the feature of entertainment of designing automatic devices in the Arab work.

Key words al-Jazari, The Book of Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices, robot, feature of entertainment

A Review on Historical Archival Documents of Sino-Swedish Scientific Expedition to Northwest China

LUO Guihuan

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

Abstract Historical Archival Documents of Sino-Sweden Scientific Expedition to Northwest China is a remarkable compilation of information, which is of great help for understanding the activity of Sino-Scientific Expedition in Xinjiang. However, as its editor did not know the event of the expedition, there are some evident mistakes in the book.

Key words Sino-Sweden, Xinjiang, archival documents