• Studies in the History of Natural Sciences NO.4 2011

Studies in the History of Natural Sciences NO.4 2011

Kuhnism in Plain Language

WU Yiyi
(History Department, Fudan University, Shanghai 200433,China)

Abstract  The concepts of Kuhn began to take shape when he noticed the fundamental differences between research styles of natural science and of humanities. There is an exclusive way of doing science while parallel theories and methods are always flourishing in the studies of humanities. The concepts of Paradigm, Scientific Community, and Normal Science deal with various aspects of this exclusiveness. Revolution occurs with the change of binding conditions. The Copernican Revolution, the development of Old Quantum theory and the Chemical Revolution are discussed to illustrate the basic concepts of Kuhnism.
Key words  Kuhn, scientific revolution, paradigm, scientific community

A Further Discussion on the Algorithm of Expansion and Contraction Difference in Ancient Chinese Planetary Theory
TANG Quan
(School of Mathematics and Information Science, Xianyang Normal University, Xianyang 712000, China;
Institute of Chinese Ideology and Culture, Northwest University, Xi’an 710069, China)

Abstract  The algorithm of expansion and contraction difference of Five Stars is a key algorithm in ancient Chinese planetary theory. The algorithms of true conjunction, appearance and invisibility are associated with expansion-contraction-difference-algorithm of Five Stars. Some scholars think poorly of Chinese planetary theory because they believe that the expansion and contraction difference equal to equation of the center. Based on previous study and basic idea of ancient Chinese planetary theory, this paper constructs a theoretical model of the algorithm of expansion and contraction difference and points out that the algorithm of expansion and contraction difference was designed to correct planetary equation of center, but it doesn’t equal to planetary equation of center and has no relation with the equation of center of the sun. After examining the precision of the algorithm of expansion and contraction difference of Five Stars in Jiyuan Li, the paper explains the planetary computation accuracy of ancient China.
Key words  planetary theory,  expansion and contraction difference,  equation of center,  Jiyuan li


Zhang Yongjing: A Strenuous Proponent of the Chinese Calendrical Methods

CHU Pingyi

(Institute of History and Philology of Academia Sinica, Taipei , Taiwan)

Abstract  This study uses a recently published manuscript gazetteer to sketch the biography of Zhang Yongjing, a strenuous proponent of the Chinese calendrical methods in the early Qing. Zhang was a versatile talent who well-versed in classical learning, poetry, opera, gardening, and last but not least, calendrical studies to which he dedicated the latter half of his life. Not only calendrical learning was his personal interest, but it was also his strategic choice in an attempt to surpass other literati. Always longing to be the best in a field motivated him to pursue different kinds of knowledge and discarded them once he considered he would not reach his goal. Zhang, nevertheless, is an eccentric person in the history of calendrical studies of the Qing period. His technical engagement is underpinned by an ideological persuasion to wade off Christianity closely associated with the Western calendrical methods used at court. Zhang insisted on reconstructing pure ancient Chinese calendrical methods bequeathed by the sages. He constructed his grand calendrical system based on the concept of a flat earth and an intuitive visual theory. Though he had once discussed calendrical matters with Mei Wending and claimed to have been benefited from the latter, he actually had never changed his position. Zhang, however, always tried to improve his techniques and rewrote his manuscript, which, ironically, had never been published as a result of his serious attitude. His techniques were soon abandoned by later Chinese astronomers but his ideological crusade remained embedded in the legacy of Chinese astronomers in the eighteenth century.
Key words  Zhang Yongjing,  Mei Wending,  Dingli yuheng

International Longitude Determination under the Territorial Expansion of Modern European Science: Focused on the Measurements in China
WU Yan
(Institute of STS, School of Huamnities and Social Sciences, Tsinghua University, Beijing, 100084,China)
Abstract  The International Longitude Determination in 1926 and 1933 was an large international cooperative project of science. Because of its right location on the earth, Zi-ka-wei was selected as one of the three bases of longitude determinations. Two observatories, Zi-ka-wei Observatory and Tsingtao Observatory, took part in the project twice in China. Based on the first-hand archives and literatures and focusing on the measurements in China, this paper specializes in the project and various clues about it, trying to answer the question: To measure the longitude in higher precision seeming a purely scientific pursuit, how was it achieved through the extension of Europe.
Key words  international longitude determination, Zi-ka-wei Observatory, Tsingtao Observatory,  longitude,  theory of continental drift


Analysis of the Algorithm of Reducing Wenshu to Dingshu in
Qin Jiushao’s Dayan Zongshu Method

HOU Gang
(Department of Mathematics, Tianjin Normal University, Tianjin 300387, China)

Abstract  In his Dayan Zongshu Method, Qin Jiushao shows us two channels of reducing wenshus to dingshus. One is to join all the wenshus by twos and then find one by one the dengshus (greatest common divisors, GCDs) of those pairs. The other way is to find the zongdeng (GCD of all the wenshus) first, select one wenshu and keep it and make other wenshus divide the zongdeng to get quotients, then set up the selected wenshu and the quotients, join them by twos and find the dengshus of the different pairs. The fundamental principle finding after the dengshu of a pair of wenshus is “yue ji fu yue ou”, where ji-ou (odd-even) indicates the amounts of the dengshus contained in the two wenshus, i.e. the quotients of the two wenshus and the dengshu. The principle points out that if the quotient of one wenshu and the dengshu is an odd number, then just reduce the wenshu by the dengshu. The purpose of the reduction is to make the two numbers (one wenshu in the pair and the quotient of another wenshu and the dengshu) be mutually prime. If the two numbers are not prime to each other, i.e. still with common factor, named xudeng by Qin Jiushao, the operation should be both reducing one number and multiplying the other by the xudeng. The above-mentioned reduction process will not stop until the two numbers are relatively prime and become dingshus. The ultimate result is not affected either by the order of the wenshus or by the sequence of the reduction. Qin Jiushao reaches the same goal by different routes and leaves us a general algorithm.
Key words  Qin Jiushao, Dayan Zongshu Method, wenshu (moduli of a set of linear congruences), dingshu (relatively prime moduli reduced from wenshu), ji-ou (odd-even), reduction


The Restrictions on Collecting Animal and Botanical Specimens by Westerners in Republican China
LUO Guihuan
(Institute for the History of Natural Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100190, China)

Abstract  Along with the establishment of institutes of investigation and research in China, Chinese biologists considered that the study of animals and plants in China should be done by themselves. For the maintenance of national sovereignty, Academia Sinica established in republican China began to limit westerners’ biological expedition and collection in China, and changed the previous situation that westerner could collect and plunder biological specimens in China freely. The limiting played an active role in protecting information of biological specimens and the rare animals in China, and may be regarded as a symbol of the groups of Chinese biologists.
Key words  Academia sinica, limit, animal and botanical specimens, expedition, collection


“Jin” in Rre-Qin Literatures and the Concept of Metal
LI Jianxi,  LI Yanxiang
(Institute of the History of Metallurgy and Materials, University of Science and Technology of Beijing, Beijing 100083,China)
Abstract  This paper investigates the meanings of “Jin” in pre-Qin literatures handed down or unearthed. The result shows the concept of metal had already emerged as the generalized meaning of “Jin” including metals or metallic materials such as copper, bronze and tin (or lead) no later than the early Western Zhou dynasty. With the development of metallurgical technology and the use of new metals or metallic materials, the generalized meaning of “Jin” (i.e., the original concept of metal) was also expanding and changing, which reflects the progress of ancient cognition on physical world.
Keywords  pre-Qin Literatures,  inscriptions on ancient bronze, History of Metallurgy, Metal

The Correspondence between Li Yan and David Eugene Smith
XU Yibao
(Borough of Manhattan Community College,City University of New York, New York NY 10007, USA)

Abstract  The David Eugene Smith Archive of the Rare Books and Manuscript Library of Columbia University in New York, and the Library of the Institute for the History of Natural Science of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, have preserved more than 10 letters (including some carbon copies and drafts) between Li Yan (1982-1963) and David Eugene Smith (1860-1944). The main content of the correspondence is on writing an English book on Chinese mathematics. Though the book project eventually failed, the archive materials are important primary sources for history of the history of Chinese mathematics. This paper provides a Chinese translation of these letters, including some drafts, preserved in the mentioned two institutions.
Key Words Li Yan David Eugene Smith Correspondence  History of History of Chinese Mathematics

A Masterpiece of Essence Collection and Viewpoints Innovation
ZHOU Hanguang
(East China Normal University,Shanghai 200241,China)

Abstract  This article is a book review for the Mathematics Volume of the History of Science and technology In China. The article believs that this book may be looked upon as a new development in the research of Chinese history of mathematics either in breadth or in depth, as well as a comprehensive collection of newest achievements up to the beginning of the 21st century. At the same time, the book also proposes to the Chinese history of mathematics research some new viewpoints and new methods, especially the viewpoint of respecting original documents, which should cause the researchers of the history of mathematics to take seriously.
Key words  book review, essence collection, innovation of viewpoints