• Studies in the History of Natural Sciences NO.1 2009
  • Update Time: 2013-10-12

Studies in the History of Natural Sciences  NO.1 2009 

Inquiry into and Analysis of the Little-known Reminiscences of Tsung-dao Lee: Oral History

WANG Chengzhi

(C. V. Starr East Asian Library, Columbia University, New York 10027 U.S.A.)

Abstract Columbia University boasts unmatched collections of oral histories related to Chinese studies. Due to multiple reasons, however, these research materials are under-used, under-researched. The little-known document of Reminiscences of Tsung-dao Lee: Oral History, based on an interview in 1963 and finalized in 1964, is one of the oral histories not as eye-catching as other voluminous oral history resources. Yet, it explores how interpersonal cooperation and social structure contribute to scientific discoveries; the issues covered are of both historical importance and realistic ramifications for current audience. Lee's many statements on the cooperation between T. D. Lee (Li Zhengdao) and Chen Ning Yang (Yang Zhenning) are quite different from their debates and arguments many years later. This article aims to introduce the oral history document to Chinese readers and analyze its significances.

Key words oral history, scientific collaboration/cooperation, T. D. Lee (Li Zhengdao), Chen Ning Yang (Yang Zhenning), Columbia University

Hypnotism in China's Psychic Activity

LI Xin

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

Abstract Through skimming first-hand materials, researches are done on the occurrence of psychics with hypnotism in China during 1900-30s. This paper describes how psychic institutions systemize hypnotism, lists the activities carried out by them and their promotion of hypnotism, analyzes the reasons for their use of hypnotism and discusses the social impact of their use of hypontism.

Key words psychics, hypnotism, science, Republic of China

Study on the Integral Problem about Quadratic Curve by Xia Luanxiang——besides Discussion on the early Comprehension to Calculus of Traditional Chinese Mathematicians

GAO Hongcheng

(School of Mathematical Science , Tianjin Normal University, Tianjin 300387, China)

Abstract Xia Luanxiang was one of the earliest mathematicians who studied calculus in China. This paper discusses Xia's achievements on the integral problem about quadratic curve, some of which were similar to modern elliptic integral and surpassed the level of Dai-wei-ji. And the paper holds that Xia gained his success through the integral method in Dai-wei-ji Shi-ji and his basic knowledge,Di-jia-shu. It thinks that the differential method was almost equal to the method of series expansion for the traditional Chinese mathematicians when calculus was just introduced into China in 1860s.

Key words Xia Luanxiang, the integral problem about quadratic curve, the integral method, the differential method, Di-jia-shu

The History and Development of the Monster

HU Junmei, DENG Mingli

(College of Mathematics and Information Science, Hebei Normal University, Shijiazhuang 050016, China)

Abstract The proof for the theorm of the classification of finite simple groups is a great achievement made in the beginning of this century. Since 1970s,the monster, which is the largest sporadic simple group, has received extensive concern because of its complicated structure and charming properties. This paper introduces the process of pursuit and comprehension of it, and analyses its relations with other disciplines in mathematics and physics.

Key words the classification of finite simple groups, sporadic simple group, monster, B. Fischer, R. Griess

Research on the Methods of Bu Falian Attached to Ancient Chinese Calendars

LI Yong

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

Abstract This paper investigates the methods of Bu Falian in ancient Chinese calendars, of which Bu represents reckoning, Falian originally means the variation of the solar orbit, as expanding in the south and shrinking in the north, and afterwards this concept changed when Bu Flian was settled in many ancient Chinese calendars of different dynasties. There are 35 calendars that contain Bu Falian, which is usually subdivided into aspects named as Hou Ce, Gua Ce and Tuwang Ce. After being collected, it is identified that all of them have immovable relations with the length of a tropical year, that Hou Ce is 1/72 of it, means the uninterrupted time-length occupied by each Hou (natural phenomenon given and correspondence to different seasons), and that Gua Ce takes 1/60, indicates the time length when every Gua (divinatory symbol originally used by Yi Jing or the Book of Changes)was on duty. Among the six relations between the year length and Tuwang Ce, only one is independent, and ordinarily the Tuwang Ce is equal to 1/120 of a year-length, and in every season Tuwang occupies 1/20 of a year-length. So the data of Bu Falian in the ancient tests are revised and proofread accordingly. Some examples about the calculations of Bu Falian for the two ancient calendars of Dayan Li and Shoushi Li are partially given.

Key words calendar, Bu Falian, length of a tropical year, Hou Ce, Gua Ce, Tuwang Ce

Controversy over the Theory of Precession in Late Ming and Early Qing China

WANG Guangchao

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

Abstract This paper examines the controversy over the theory of precession during the late Ming and early Qing China. Ancient Chinese astronomy had a theory of precession different from Western astronomy. Early Chinese astronomers had noted the slight discrepancy, an “annual difference” (sui cha), between the lengths of the tropical and sidereal years, that is between the time which elapsed from one winter solstice to the next and the time it took for the sun in its apparent annual circuit to return to a given position with respect to the fixed stars. They distinguished the ‘celestial revolution’ (tian zhou) from the “annual revolution”(sui zhou), arguing that “celestial heavens and the calendrical year are two different things (tian zi wei tian, sui zi wei sui).” Western astronomers explain it by reference to a cosmology where celestial bodies are embedded in celestial spheres. Precession seen as a property of the motion of the whole cosmos, affects the positions of all fixed stars. The sphere of the fixed stars rotates on the axis of the ecliptic. During the period of late Ming and early Qing, the Western theory of precession was introduced into China by the Jesuits to explain “annual difference” (sui-cha). This led to a violent controversy over the theory of precession between the Jesuit astronomers and some conservative Chinese officials. Jesuit astronomers used the theory of precession to demonstrate the superiority of the “new method” (Western astronomy), while some Chinese scholars used it to attack the Jesuits. At the same time, a number of Chinese astronomers who tried to bridge the differences between Western and Chinese astronomy took an open-minded attitude towards the theory of precession. Mei Wending, trying to merge Western learning into Chinese system, re-interpreted the Chinese theory of sui cha in a way that would accommodate the Western theory of precession.

Key words annual difference, the precession of stars, controversy over Western and Chinese astronomy

Existing Situation and Content of Ancient Chinese Manuals on Chrysanthemum

WANG Zifan, ZHANG Mingshu, DAI Silan

(College of Landscape Architecture, Beijing Forestry University, Beijing 100083, China)

Abstract Based on an analysis of ancient Chinese manuals on chrysanthemum, their existing status and main contents are reported in this paper. The developing history of chrysanthemum manuals is revealed in many related ancient literature. For the first time, the extant chrysanthemum manuals are classified into five kinds according to their contents: manuals on varieties, cultivation, drawing, poetry and integration. It is also found that the different chrysanthemum manuals in different dynasty have their own historical character, which reflects their cultivation level and aesthetic orientation. The number of ancient Chinese chrysanthemum manuals in history amounts to 68 and their existing number is 47. In quantity, ancient Chinese manuals on chrysanthemum surpass all other flower manuals. They are still well-kept, have substantial content and deserve to be further looked into.

Key words chrysanthemum manuals, existing situation, classification, historical survey

Investigation on Soldering Technique before Qin Dynasty in China

JIN Pujun

(Research Center of Historical Cultural Heritage Protection of Shaanxi, Shaanxi Normal University, Xi'an 710062, China)

Abstract Chinese soldering technique had a long history between the Shang and Zhou Dynasties, which had came into vogue based on the bronze casting technique and was a great creation in China's Bronze Age. Through investigation carried out on the foundation of past work by predecessors and analysing the soldering technique on bronzes found from Jiuliandun Tomb, some important conclusions are drawn for making a proper division on the development of the soldering technique in the pre-Qin days.

Key words soldering, bronze, Pb-Sn alloy, traditional craft, Bronze Age

A Preliminary Study of “Kodo Zuroku”

WANG Wenzhi, MEI Jianjun

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

Abstract “Kodo Zuroku”, a very important work in the history of mining and smelting technology in Japan, has been receiving considerable attention and research interest since its publication at the beginning of the nineteenth century. As the work records in great detail the process of copper mining and smelting of eighteenth century Japan, it holds a prominent position in the history of Japanese technology. This paper offers a brief introduction and discussion of its contents from a comparative perspective. It is hoped that the work will attract greet attention from Chinese scholars and help our understanding of the cultural relationship between China and Japan in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Key words history of Japanese mining and smelting, “Kodo Zuroku”,modern mining and smelting technology,history of the exchange of science and technology between China and Japan

The Issue of Historical Conception Involved in Explaining Needham PuzzleⅠ and A Tentative Solution

LUO Liqun

(Department of Sociology, Central China Normal University, Wuhan 430079, China)

Abstract Why had modern science not developed in Chinese(or Indian) civilization but only in that of Europe? This paper reviews several famous explanations for the above problem, and questions the views held by Jin Guantao, Fan Hongye and Liu Qingfeng. The paper further points out that the Needham puzzle involves complex historical events which are irreversible and the scientific enterprise is a social one or even of the whole humankind. Under these circumstances, to explain Needham puzzleⅠ, a taxonomical theory about the social system has to be introduced. Actually, this article has recourse to the cultural materialist theory based on common sense and logic in cultural anthropology and Karl Popper's idea about autonomous World Ⅲ. The tentative solution to Needham puzzle Ⅰ first considers population-technology-economy-environment factors, and next the World Ⅲ factor. A basic conclusion is that one has to acknowledge a unique, exceptionally well-endowed Greece.

Key words Needham puzzle, Needham puzzle Ⅰ, cultural materialism, world Ⅲ prototype