• Studies in the History of Natural Sciences NO.2 2008
  • Update Time: 2013-10-12

Studies in the History of Natural Sciences  NO.2 2008 

Research on the Parallax Theory in Ancient Greece, India, Arabia and China

TANG Quan,

(Department of Mathematics, Xianyang Normal Univisity, Xianyang 712000, China;Institute of Chinese Ideology and Culture, Northwest University, Xi'an 710069, China)

QU Anjing

(Research Center for the History of Mathematics and Science, Northwest University, Xi'an 710069, China)

Abstract As a core algorithm in solar eclipse theory, parallax algorithm was highly emphasized by all ancient astronomers. To evaluate the solar eclipse theory of mathematical astronomy in ancient Greece, India, Arabia and China is helpful for us to study in detail the parallax algorithm of solar eclipse theory in these civilizations. Based on the original works and previous studies, this paper researches the parallax theory in ancient Greece, India, Arabia and China with some representative calendars as examples, including their principle, precession, model and the history of parallax algorithm. In addition, the paper also makes a comprehensive comparison for the similarities and differences of the parallax algorithm of solar eclipse theory in Greece, India, Arabia and China.

Key words parallax, Almagest, The Surya Siddhanta, Huihui Calendar, Jiyuan Calendar, Shoushi Calendar

A Research on the Early History of Preparation of Arsenic by Three Europeans

ZHU Jing, REN Dingcheng

(Center for Social Studies of Science, Peking University, Beijing 100871,China)

Abstract By documentation and experimental reproduction, this paper reviews other authors' description of the early history of preparation of arsenic by three Europeans, Albertus Magnus, Theophrastus Philippus Paracelsus, and Johann Schrder, corrects their errors, and reconstructs this history. Its main findings are: (1) the source of Albertus' process to prepare arsenic by heating soap and orpiment is seen in his Libellus de Alchemia rather than his Book of Mineral, and the experiment made by the authors of the paper conforms the process; (2) the common parlance according to which Paracelsus' process to prepare arsenic was heating eggshells and “arsenic” has neither source of documents nor is contrary to modern chemistry, his process to gain arsenic is heating soap and orpiment or realgar; (3) there is no recordation of preparing element arsenic in Schrder's Pharmacopoeia, and it still remains a problem to be solved if he recorded processes to prepare arsenic in other works.

Key words arsenic, documentation, experimental reproduction, Albertus Magnus, Theophrastus Philippus Paracelsus, Johann Schrder

Natural Theology in the Book Botany

LIU Huajie

(Department of Philosophy, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China)

Abstract  The book Botany excerpted, compiled and translated from John Lindley's botanical book was published in the mid-nineteenth-century China, which significantly influenced the development of botany in China and Japan. The rich but overlooked thoughts of natural theology in the book Botany in the literature of botanical history should be reinterpreted in a new scientific light or historiography of science. John Lindley's book upon which Botany was based actually made no mention of theology, but the scientific culture background permeated with natural theology in Botany can be traced back to the British tradition of natural theology from the time of John Ray down to Darwin. From a more open perspective on scientific affairs, the binding of natural science with natural theology in particular or the marriage of science with value in general is a virtue or a demand instead of a shortcoming.

Key words  Li Shanlan, Alexander Williamson, John Lindley, natural theology

Eye Cases and Their Therapies at Early Missionary Hospitals in China, 1835—1876

YAN Yiwei,ZHANG Daqing

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

Abstract  To understand the patterns of medical activities of the early missionary hospitals in China, in particular the prevalence and treatments of ophthalmologic cases, the annual reports of the hospitals have been collected and analyzed, with special attention paid to statistic data in these reports. Results indicate that the proportions of eye cases were unusually high during the beginning years of the hospitals, whereas the number of patients suffering from other diseases increased as time passed; the most common disorders of the eye were infectious diseases, including “ophthalmia”, conjunctivitis, trachoma, and leucoma and opacity of the cornea; low living standards and lack of medical resources led to the rampage of eye diseases; blindness frequently caused by trachoma and the ophthalmic symptoms of smallpox, syphilis, tuberculosis and gonorrhea; medical missionaries often adopted such therapeutic means as operations for entropium, couching and extraction of cataracts, operations for artificial pupil, and various drug treatments. Lastly, this paper explores the medical as well as social motivations for medical missionaries to prefer setting up ophthalmic hospitals.

Key words  missionary hospitals, ophthalmology, disease spectrum, therapeutics, medical exchanges, Late Qing

A Study on the Performance of the Northern Song Government's Managing Astronomical Activities by Analyzing Fengyuan Li Reform


(Department for the History and Philosophy of Science, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai 200030,China)

Abstract  Fengyuan Li, which Shen Kuo and Wei Pu made, was a calendar promulgated by the Northern Song Government. The activity of making calendar was carried out during the Xining reform. By a study on the astronomical activity of making calendar from the combination of the political, social, cultural, technical factors and Shen kuo's personal forte dimensions, this article attempts to analyze what the Northern Song Government agencies did. The calendar reform was not only a scientific activity, but also a political event of the state. Under support of the state, the innovation of managerial systems and due to the regular rules of technical management established by the government, progress was made by the government activities. The development of astronomy was, however, held back by bureaucratic obstructionism.

Key words  Fengyuan Li, the Northern Song Dynasty, astronomy,management

Takebe's Mathematical Thought and Methodology

ZHOU Chang, ZHANG Jianke

(Department of Applied Mathematics and Applied Physics, Xi'an Institute of Post and Telecommunications, Xi'an 710121, China)

Abstract In view of mathematical methodology and the Neo-Confucianism of Song and Yuan dynasties, this paper discusses the essential character of Tetsujutsu which runs through Tetsujutsu Sankei,and Takebe's mathematical thought and methodology reflected from the Jishitsu Setsu at the end of the book. The paper comes to the conclusion that Takebe's Tetsujutsu is, actually, the colligation of the methods of deduction and induction, in which Takebe pays more attention to the method of induction, but he ignores the proof of precisely relying on the method of deduction. Basing on the analysis, it gets that mathematical thought coming from the author's preface and Jishitsu Setsu of the Tetsujutsu Sankei is rather connected to the mainstream philosophy of Zhu Xi (1130─1200) and Wang Shouren (1472─1528) of the time, than having nothing to do with the philosophical thought which is the view of some scholars. And, the origin of Takebe's mathematical thought may be traced back to the Neo-Confucianism of Song and Yuan dynasties in China.

Key words Takebe Katahiro, Wasan, Zhuishu, principle

J. J. Sylvester and His Matrix Theory

BAO Fangxun,

(School of Mathematics and System Sciences, Shandong University, Jinan 250100, China)

DONG Kerong

 (Department of Mathematics and Physics Sciences, Zibo Normal College, Zibo, 255100,China;School of Mathematics and System Sciences, Shandong University, Jinan 250100, China)

Abstract  The emergence of the matrix theory was accompanied by the study of other theories,and many mathematicians had done a large amount of work during the earlier period of its development.On this basis,J. J. Sylvester was the first to use the word “matrix”,introduced some fundamental concepts related to Matrix,obtained some principal results and famous theorems,and made important contribution for the matrix theory.

Key words  earlier period of the development of matrix,J. J. Sylvester,matrix,matrix theorem

The Research on Emile Borel's Work Relative to Function Singularities

WANG Quanlai

(The College of the Computer and Information Engineering, Tianjin Normal University, Tianjin 300387, China)

Abstract It is important to study the function singularities by Taylor's development in the theory of analytic continuation. This paper analyzes E. Borel's work relative to the research on that “Hadamard theorem of the multiplication of function singularities” and “Taylor's series generelly considers its convergent circle as the cut secant”. They are not studied in the history of mathematics at present. The paper discusses the background, the development of his idea and the influence of his theory on other mathematicians at that time.

Key words Emile Borel, Taylor's development,  function singularities,   analytic continuation

Exploration on Li Siguang's School of Geomechanics


(School of Philosophy, Wuhan University, Wuhan 430072, China; School of Political Science and Law, China University of Geosciences, Wuhan 430074, China)

Abstract   The school of geomechanics of Li Siguang is a research community, which takes Li as its center, his students and assistants as its main members, and the theory of geomechanics as its academic guiding principle. In the implementation of the guiding principle, it formed a strong cohesion, became quite successful and produced an extensive impact. It is a research group having the character of a scientific among China's scientific circles marked by the shortage of academic schools. This paper attempts to explore the basic status of Li's school with a discussion on its characters.

Key words  Li Siguang's school of geomechanics, composition of the school, academic guiding principle, achievement, characters