• Studies in the History of Natural Sciences NO.2 2011

Studies in the History of Natural Sciences NO.2 2011

The Pictorial Sources of Benjamin Hobson’s(1816—1873)Quanti xinlun
CHAN Man Sing
(University of Hong Kong)
Abstract  This paper is intended to supplement H.Matsumoto’s pioneering studies of Benjamin Hobson’s medical works.It has identified one of Hobson’s major sources,F.Mouat’s An Atlas of Anatomical Plates,which,unlike his other sources,were published outside Europe,in Calcutta in 1849.Mouat and Hobson were almost contemporaries at University College London in the 1830s,and both went to the Far East after completion of their medical training,Hobson to China as a missionary,and Mouat to India for career and adventure.Both became engaged subsequently in the local medical education,and in translating and composing medical textbooks in the local languages.Their works were instrumental,not only in bringing Western medical science to the East,but also in establishing a racial consciousness in the oriental mind,"White acme,Black pit",with profound impacts.
Key words  Benjamin Hobson; Quanti xinlun; medical illustrations; Mouat; racism Quain’s Anatomy;

The Trace Italienne in China: Introduction of European Fortification
in the Late Ming
ZHENG Cheng
(Institute for the History of Natural Science, CAS, Beijing 100190, China)

Abstract  In the late Ming Dynasty, Xu Guangqi and other Catholic literati were actively involved with military affairs because of the invasion of Manchu and the threat of roving bandits. They imported cannons and gunners from Macau, and also worked hard to introduce European fortification, i.e., the trace Italienne. This paper has six parts. The first and second one illustrates how Xu and his student Sun Yuanhua, made their sustained efforts in building bastions. Then, based on the translation “Western Fortress” by Han Yun and Han Lin brothers (also Xu’s students), the Italian source and the transition of certain technology are explored. Part 4 focuses on Ma Weicheng, who allegedly directed the building of 32 bastions between the year of 1638 and 1643. Part 5 surveys the spread of the knowledge of trace Italienne in Qing dynasty. The final part discusses the reasons why the art of European fortification ended prematurely in early modern China.
Key words  fortification, bastion, Xu Guangqi, Sun Yuanhua, Han Lin, Ma Weicheng


A New Explanation on the Origination of the Idea of 1 cun for 1000 li
for the Variation Rate of the Sun’s Shadow

XU Fengxian
(Institute for the History of Natural Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100190, China)
HE Nu
(Institute of Archaeology, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Beijing 100710, China)

Abstract  The idea that the length of the sun’s shadow increases 1 cun for every 1000 li north and decreases 1 cun for every 1000 li south has profound effect in the history of Chinese astronomy. Based on new archaeological and archaeoastronomical discoveries and studies, as well as textual investigations, this paper concludes the idea of 1 cun for 1000 li originated from observations of the sun’s shadow from two important archaeological sites, the Taosi site and the Wangchenggang site, during the critical period when the first state was being formed. The length of the sun’s shadow at summer solstice observed by the dwellers of Taosi site was 1.6 chi (16 cun), and that observed by the dwellers of Wangchenggang site was 1.5 chi (15 cun). The former handed down into Zhoubi suanjing while the latter into Zhouli. Study on the length and distance system of early China demonstrates that the distance between the two sites is very near to 1000 li at that time. It is a special period in Chinese history when measurement of the sun’s shadow and large-scale geographical survey began subsequently, and thus the idea of 1 cun for 1000 li came into existence.
Key words  1 cun for 1000 li for the sun’s shadow, Zhoubi suanjing, Zhouli, Taosi, Wangchenggang


The Crystalline Sphere Theory Transmitted in Late Ming China and Its Influence

SUN Chengsheng
(Institute for the History of Natural Science, CAS, Beijing 100190, China)

Abstract  The theory of crystalline sphere, which was closely related to Catholic doctrines, was the first cosmology introduced to late Ming China by Western missionaries. This article fully discusses the narratives about the theory and its Western origin, and its influence in late Ming and early Qing. Matteo Ricci’s translation, which originated from Christoph Clavius’ In Sphaeram Joannis de Sacro Bosco Commentarius, was the most comprehensive and influential. Although crystalline sphere theory was being washed out in Europe at that time, it was the earliest cosmology introduced to China and had extensive influence on Chinese literati. Even after the Western astronomy was largely transmitted, the theory still influenced the Chinese scholars who sought for the true structure of the cosmos, and played an important role in shaping the Chinese literati about the cosmos structure in late Ming and early Qing.
Key words  crystalline spheres, late Ming and early Qing, Matteo Ricci, Francisco Furtado, Mei Wending, Wang Xichan, meridian

A History of Dayan——From Fangcheng to Dayan
ZHU Yiwen
(Institute for the History of Natural Science, CAS, Beijing 100190, China)

Abstract  The Dayan method in Mathematical Treatise in Nine Sections, which is also called Chinese remainder theorem, is a great accomplishment. Its origin and development, however, are not known clearly. According to Qin Jiushao’s preface, scholars have argued that Dayan comes from the Fangcheng of astronomers, which is not a real Fangcheng in Nine Chapters on the Mathematical Art. This article holds that astronomers’ Fangcheng is a real Facngcheng while its purpose is different. The article also presents the original meaning of Yuejifuyueou, which refers to odd number and even number. The fact is that Dayanqiuyi rule can be easily viewed by deducing astronomers’ Fangcheng, which not only tells us what is Qin’s contribution to the Dayan method,but also offers a new idea about its origin and development. Using the Fangcheng of astronomers, a series of convergent fractions can be naturally obtained. And Zu Chongzhi’s Circular Constant and other convergent fractions in history of China can be explained anew.
Keywords  Qin Jiushao, Zu Chongzhi, Fangcheng, Dayan,yuejifuyueou(to reduce odd number not even number)

The Sources of Jiuzhang Suanfa Bilei Daquan
ZHANG Jiuchun
(Institute of Policy and Management, CAS, Beijing 100190, China)

Abstract  Written in 1450 by Wu Jing, ]iuzhang Suanfa Bilei Daquan (called Daquan for short)is a mathematics work.It serves as a link between past and future in the history of mathematics in Ming Dynasty.It has close relations to Jiuzhang Suanshu, as well as to many mathematics books.This paper compares it in detail with the extant mathematics books which were published before 1450, analyses their relationship, and concludes that Song and Yuan mathematics books, especially those written by Yang Hui, had important influence on Da Quan. Da Quan had inherited the thought of valuing Kai Fang Shu, basic knowledge of mathematics and the compiling method in mathematics books written by Yang Hui. Wu Jing at least knew tian yuan shu, but could not understand it. The paper also thinks that during the first 80 years of Ming Dynasty those books including some high level achievements in former Dynasties could be read outside the Palace. Unfortunately, WuJing failed to comprehend and record the achievements. However, Da Quan still preserves some important knowledge and plays an important role in circulating knowledge of traditional Chinese mathematical in the Ming Dynasty.
Key words  Jiuzhang Suanfa Bilei Daquan, Jiuzhang Suanshu, Wu Jing, Ming Dynasty, traditional mathematics


The International Impact of the Chinese Journal of Physiology as Seen from Citation Counts Found in the Science Citation Index

YAN Yiwei ,LUO Guihuan
(Institute for the History of Natural Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100190, China)

Abstract  As an academic periodical printed in mainland China during the years of 1927-1952, and with most of its papers published in English, the Chinese Journal of Physiology holds a significant position in the history of development of modern life sciences in China. After a brief introduction to its publication cycles and the compliments it has received, this paper evaluates the journal’s instant and long-term impacts in the international scientific community on the base of citation counts found in the Science Citation Index by the year 2010. Calculations show that the average impact factor of the journal is at least 0.22 ± 0.05, a higher figure compared to that of its successor, Acta Physiologica Sinica. Citation counts till 2010 suggest that the journal enjoys a lasting favorable reputation, though its publication cycles and cited times were often greatly interfered by social and political turbulences. By April 2010, 56 articles, which amount to 7.8% of all the items ever published in the journal, won it 50% of its total citation times. Analysis of the 56 most frequently cited articles reveals: 1) These articles can be grouped into a dozen pieces of research work; 2) The works were generally done at the Peking Union Medical College and Hospital; 3) The works were almost all engaged in elucidating general principles of life, rather than developing a research line from specific native resources. In a word, the Chinese Journal of Physiology reflects an intrinsic paradigm of physiological research, and highlights as well the value of its achievements.
Key words  Chinese Journal of Physiology,  impact factor,  history of modern biology,  scientific periodicals

Explanation for “the Method of Constructing Barracks” in Qin Bamboo Slips on Mathematics Collected by Yuelu Academy

XU  Daosheng
(Yuelu Academy,Hunan University,Changsha 410082)
LI  Wei
(Hunan University Library,Changsha 410082)

Abstract  There is a mathematical problem of “the method of constructing barracks” in Qin bamboo slips on Mathematics collected by Yuelu Academy, which has been released for a long time, and remains to be researched and explained. This paper has exactly deciphered the key points “soldiers”、 “ numbers of soldiers”、 “two” and “gate of barracks” in the Qin bamboo slips on Mathematics. The only way to decipher Mathematics is put ”two” and “ gate of barracks” together. With these key points grasped exactly and the full text punctuated correctly, the mathematical problem which is difficult to comprehend becomes clear and coherent. By comparing the result from the mathematical problem with the solution written on the remains of bamboo slips, the result and the solution are found to be identical, and the other part of the solution which was scattered and lost also emerges on the surface.
Key words  Qin bamboo slips collected by Yuelu Academy, Mathematics, the method for constructing barracks, number of soldiers, two, gate of barracks


The Equivalence Principle and Gauge Theories of Gravity

HAO Liuxiang
(Institute for the History of Natural Science, CAS, Beijing 100190, China)

Abstract  The three types of gauge theories of gravity (GTGs) based on the equivalence principle are analyzed historically. The confusion about the definition of translational potentials is clarified, and the distinction between YM theories and GTGs is drawn. Specifically, the gauge potential in YM theory is Ehresmann connection on the principle bundles, while the gauge potential in GTGs is Cartan connection in Cartan geometry.
Key words  gravitation, equivalence principle, gauge theory, Poincaré group, de Sitter group, Ehresmann connection, Cartan connection