• Studies in the History of Natural Sciences NO.3 2008
  • Update Time: 2013-10-12

Studies in the History of Natural Sciences  NO.3 2008 

Regulations of Supervising Research of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in 1964 and the Principle of Combining Theory with Practice

LOU Caiyun, ZHANG Li

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

Abstract The Chinese Communist Party guides the development of scientific enterprise in China on the principle of Combining Theory with Practice. The relationship between theory and practice is complex. How to comprehend and carry out this principle was one of the key issues for the scientific research of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and its development during the period from the founding of the People's Republic of China to the beginning of the Cultural Revolution in China. Regulations of Supervising Research of CAS (Thirty-six Items for short) in 1964 is the first formal and systematic regulation that tries to work out this issus.

Based on archives and oral sources, this paper traces the context of the establishment of Thirty-six Items, and its drawing up, promulgation and being put into effect. It then points out that the essence of Thirty-six Items is the catagorization of science research work, with the purpose of attempting to protect the theoretical research of CAS under changeable political atmosphere emphasizing extremely and simplistically Combining Theor with Practice, which did have specified significance on CAS's history.

Key words Regulation of Supervising Research of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, catagorization of science research work, combininb theory with practice

Bringing Heaven Down to Earth in Ancient China

David W. Pankenier

(Department of Modern Languages and Literature, Lehigh University, 9 West Packer Ave. Bethlehem, PA 18015, USA)

Abstract Study of the cosmological significance of the North Pole in ancient Chinese thought suggests that ritual specialists in Bronze Age China, like their earlier counterparts in ancient Egypt, used the circumpolar stars to find true north, a task complicated during the last two millennia BCE by the absence of a comparatively bright star near the pole. Similarly, archaeological discoveries from the Xia, Shang, and Zhou periods show that it had become crucially important to achieve a cardinal orientation of the built environment—walls, palaces, temples, tombs, common burials, and even storage pits give evidence of a preoccupation with N-S axial alignment. It has long been understood that cardinality is a core organizing principle of early Chinese cosmological thinking. Here, however, the author's concern is with how, in practical terms, “right and true” orientation was achieved in the early period using the Great Square of Pegasus, whose importance is alluded to in the ode “When Ding had just culminated” in the Shijing, and what this unique method tells people about a fundamental mindset that figured importantly in the formation of early Chinese civilization.

Key words Polar alignment, Great Square of Pegasus, Celestial Temple, Polestar, five planets

The Shicha Algorithm of Lunar Eclipse in Ancient China

QU Anjing,

(Department of Mathematics, Northwest University, Xi'an 710069, China)


(Department of Mathematics, Xianyang Normal College, Xianyang 712000, China)

Abstract The Shicha of lunar eclipse is a difference between moments of full moon and middle eclipse. The first algorithm designed for Shicha is found in Yixing's Dayan li (a calendar-making system of Dayan, 724). In some calendar-making systems in the Song and Yuan Dynasties, such algorithms are also found. Scholars, such as Zhu Zaiyu,considered that Shicha of lunar eclipse in ancient China was a correction of the moon parallax. Since the moon parallax has nothing to do with the lunar eclipse, the Shicha algorithm has been taken as a meaningless method, and criticized by historians of astronomy. According to a constructed theoretical model of Shicha of lunar eclipse, a conclusion shows that it is necessary to calculate the Shicha of lunar eclipse, and the Shicha algorithm in ancient China is not designed for the correction caused by the moon parallax. 

Key words Chinese calendar, lunar eclipse, the moon parallax, middle eclipse, Shicha

The Impact of Telescope on Chinese Astronomy During the Late Ming and Early Qing Period

WANG Guangchao,WU Yunhao, SUN Xiaochun

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

Abstract Telescope had a great impact on European astronomy during the 17th century. It dramatically changed the meaning of the European astronomy. When telescope was introduced into China during the Late Ming and Early Qing time, it also played an important role in the acceptance of Western astronomy China. On the one hand, telescope was the key instrument for the observation of eclipses that was a critical issue in the debate of calendar reform. Telescope enhanced the accuracy of the measurement and effectively demonstrated this by making the images of eclipses visible. On the other hand, the discoveries of celestial phenomena made through telescopic observations brought about new speculations on cosmological ideas concerning the sun, the moon, the five planets, and stars. The introduction of telescope in China facilitated the acceptance of Tychonic cosmological system in late Ming and early Qing China.

Key words telescope, calendar reform controversy, cosmology, acceptance of Western astronomy in Ming and Qing China

Reconstruct Cardano's Four Special Rules of Quartic Equation: A Discussion on the Paradigms of Research on the history of Mathematics

ZHAO Jiwei

(Centre for History of Mathematics and Sciences, Northwest University, Xi'an 710069, China)

Abstract This paper reconstructs the ways how Girolamo Cardano constituted the four special rules of quartic equation, i.e., first transforming some simple equation to the quartic equation discussed in the rule, then gaining the suppositions and conclusion of the rule by means of comparing the coefficients of the two equations. The reconstructions discover that the signification of the rules is not the same to the mathematics expressed by the proposition formed rules and explain why Cardano could gain these rules. Moreover, the process of the reconstructions establishes relations among three paradigms of research on the history of mathematics summarized by Professor QU Anjing as “what mathematics was done”, “how mathematics was done” and “why mathematics was done”. The paper points out that during the procedure of the reconstructions posing the question of “why mathematics was done” helps “how mathematics was done” find the rational way to reconstruct the rules; however, the answer of the problem of “how mathematics was done” explains the question of “why mathematics was done”, thereby orienting “what mathematics was done”.

Key words quartic equation,Cardano,Artis Magnae,paradigms of research on the history of mathematics

External Alchemy and Science of TCM Formula in Song Dynasty

HAN Jishao

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

Abstract During Han Dynasty, the Taoism developed technologies of external(or laboratory) alchemy. Dan (elixir) in its early stage was only used by Taoist to become immortal. In the Tang Dynasty, some Taoists and a few physicians used Dan as medicine, much of which was recorded in the Dao zan (the Taoist Canon). In the Song Dynasty, more and more medical works introduced Dan. From then on, Dan became an important traditional Chinese medicine.

Key words external alchemy (Waidan), golden elixir; prescription of Dan, traditional Chinese medicine, science of TCM formula

Laws on the Normalization of Toxicant Administration Inscribed on Han Bamboo Slips Unearthed in Zhangjiashan

LIU Xiangming

(Department of Political and Law, Jiaying University, Guangdong Meizhou 514015, China)

Abstract “Statues of the Second Year” on Han bamboo slips unearthed in Zhangjiashan not only inherited the restrictions of Qin Dynasty on seasons for the use of poisonous plants to poison fish, but also established provisions on strict control and use of aconitine as well as on burning down the poisonous dried meat timely, promptly and completely. These laws and statues embody the advancement of legislative technique and the extention of legislative range, and also exerted a great impact on relevant statutes of the Tang Dynasty.

Key words “Statues of the Second Year”, to poison fish, aconitine,   poisonous dried meat, statutes of laws of the Tang Dynasty

Scientific Analysis of Prehistoric Copper and Bronze Artifacts Recovered in the Yili Region, Xinjiang, China

LING Yong, MEI Jianjun,

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

LU Enguo

(Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology in Xinjiang, Urumqi 830011, China)

Abstract This paper reports the analytical results of 20 prehistoric copper and bronze artifacts unearthed from the Yili Region in Xinjiang. Technical characteristics of these artifacts can be summarized as follows: first, the use of tin bronze clearly predominated among these artifacts; second, no arsenical bronze or Cu-As-Pb alloys were identified among the artifacts, highlighting the question whether Cu-As-Pb alloys produced at the Nulasai mining and smelting site in Nileke were actually used in the Yili region; third, the compositional contrast between the handled mirrors and those with a knob on the back indicates that there existed at least two different mirror traditions which have their own cultural origins.

Key words Xinjiang, Yili Region, ancient bronze metallurgy, bronze mirror

The Non-destructive Analysis of Ancient Jade Artifacts with Serpentine Mineral Composition

LIU Zhiyong,

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

GAN Fuxi,

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

CHENG Huansheng, MA Bo,

(Fudan University, Shanghai 200433, China)

GU Donghong

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

Abstract Serpentine jade is one of the oldest precious stones used in China. Proton induced X-ray emission (PIXE), X-ray diffraction (XRD) and laser Raman spectroscopy (LRS) were used to study the mineral characteristics of the ancient jade artifacts unearthed from Anyang, Henan province, Luoyang, Henan province, Hangzhou, Zhejiang province and Xiuyan Jade samples from Liaoning province respectively. Based on the comparative study, the ancient serpentine jade artifacts were identified successfully. The proposed non-destructive analysis methods are much beneficial to further study of the ancient jade artifacts. Trace elements composition analysis provides helpful information for exploring the sources of jade materials.

Key words serpentine jade, ancient jade artifacts, non-destructive analysis, PIXE, Raman spectrum

A Brief Comment on Feng Rui’s Assumption for His Model of Seismometer

LI Qiang

(National Museum, Beijing 100006, China )

Abstract This article points out that Feng Rui’s assumption for his model of seismometer is contrary to the historical literature, so it doesn’t quite tally with the level of scientific development during the Han Dynasty of China.

Key words Zhang Heng, Seimoscope, Suspended pendulum,  Upright rod, “Du Zhu” 

History of Disease and the Writing of World History:An Introduction and Review of The Cambridge World History of Human Disease

RONG Xinjiang,  CHEN Hao

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

Abstract The book, The Cambridge World History of Human Disease, discusses the medical tradition and history of disease in various regions. It also talks about the history and geographical distribution of the main kinds of human diseases. Hence, it is not only an excellent handbook providing overviews and recent trends of history of disease in different countries to scholars, but also a reflection on how to write a world history of disease in the cultural context of various regions.

Key words The Cambridge World History of Human Disease, history of disease, world history, writing of history