• Studies in the History of Natural Sciences NO.1 2012

Studies in the History of Natural Sciences NO.1 2012

A New Inquiry into the Astronomical Instruments from the Tomb of Xiahou Zao (?- 165 BCE)
SHI Yunli1, FANG Lin 2, HAN Chao 3

(1. University of Science and Technology of China, Hefei 230026, China;
2. Anhui Museum, Hefei 230061, China; 3. Fuyang Museum, Fuyang, Anhui 236000, China)

Abstract  In 1977, archaeologists unearthed a piece of lacquerware from the tomb of Xiahou Zao (?-165 BCE), the 2nd Marquis of Ruyin of the Western Han dynasty. It has been named “Lacquerware of Unkown Name” for no one understands its function. This paper shows that it is actually a gnomon for the determination of major seasons, which is the earliest example of its kind that has hitherto been seen in a complete form. Moreover, the “Disks with 28 Lunar Lodges” from the same tomb have caused a lasting dispute over their possible function. With use of the so-called “Supporting Frame for the Cosmic Boards” unearthed from the same tomb, the disks can actually be mounted onto the plane of the celestial equator and thus form the earliest and definitely dated example of an equatorial device for astronomical observation that still can be seen in the world.
Key words  Xiahou Zao, Chinese gnomon, Disks with 28 Lunar Lodges, Supporting Frame for the Cosmic Boards, instrument for equatorial observations


A Statistical Analysis for the Astronomical Records in Astronomical Chronicle of History of the Song Dynasty

LIU Ciyuan
(National Time Service Center, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lintong, Shaanxi, 710600, China)

Abstract  Checked by modern astronomical computation, all the astronomical records in Astronomical Chronicle of History of the Song Dynasty are analyzed and counted on the basis of their original categories. They are then sorted into two types: the type that can be computed and the type that cannot be computed. The rate of mistake is computed, and most mistakes can be known to reflect their original shapes. Other literatures are also looked into for astronomical records of the Song Dynasty.
Key Words  ancient astronomical records, History of the Song Dynasty, Astronomical Chronicle, History of Astronomy

Change of Qi annotation in the Annual Almanacs during the Late Ming and the Early Qing
WANG Guangchao
(Institute for the History of Natural Science, CAS, Beijing 100190, China)

Abstract  This article examines the ways of annotating Qi in the annual almanacs during the late Ming and the early Qing. Change from “mean Qi” to “true Qi” made the determination of the jie qi (solar periods) and the intercalary months much more complicated. In the late Ming, Jesuit astronomers proposed to use “true Qi” on the grounds that it fit the heavens. In the early Qing, this new practice became a focus of controversy between Jesuit astronomers and Confucian literati. Ferdinand Verbiest demonstrated the reasonableness of using “true Qi” by showing that the calculated gnomon shadow lengths fit the solar periods best. The early Qing astronomers such as Wang Xichan and Mei Wending opposed using “true Qi”. They argued that “mean Qi” was altogether a suitable way of annotating the annual almanacs and using “true Qi” would obscure the principle of placing the intercalary months. 
Key Words  mean Qi, true Qi, intercalary months, annual almanacs

The Origin and Evolution of the Chinese Translations
of the Names of the Western Constellations

WANG Yumin
(Beijing Ancient Observatory, Beijing Planetarium, Beijing 100005, China)

Abstract  Around the eighth century, the concept of the twelve constellations (Zodiac) was introduced into China. The system of the modern Western constellation, however, was not introduced into China until the late of the Ming Dynasty (1368C.E.-1644C.E.). Over the next four centuries, the Chinese translations of the names of the Western constellations had gone through a complex process from the initial tryouts, subsequent modifications, to their finalized and standard names. Through analyzing the relevant historical materials, this article describes the process in a more or less comprehensive way. It concludes that the different translations reflect very well the levels of the Chinese understanding of the systems of the Western constellation at different periods of time. In addition, the article also proposes several new Chinese translations of the names of the constellation from a view point of the contemporary astronomy and its interdisciplinary studies. 
Keywords  Western constellations, asterism, Chinese translations, evolution

Interpreting the Squares of Order Nine in Choe Sŏk-chŏng’s Kusuryak

LIH Ko-Wei
(Institute of Mathematics, Academia Sinica, Taipei 10617, Taiwan)

Abstract  Choe Sŏk-chŏng (1645 - 1715) was a Confucian scholar of noble birth who served in the court of Korea’s Choson Dynasty.  In the appendix to his mathematical treatise Kusuryak, he displayed a number of magic squares and other configurations, some of which were copied from the works of the Chinese mathematician Yang Hui (ca. 1238 - ca. 1298).  However, his squares of order nine exhibit amazing originality.  The present article is an attempt on interpreting the mathematical implications and construction methods of these squares.
Key words  Choe Sŏk-chŏng, Kusuryak, Latin square, Euler square, magic square, Luo Shu, Korean mathematics

Notes on Shugen Congcao
LI Zhaohua
(School of Mathematics, Tianjin Normal University, Tianjin 300387,China)
  
Abstract  Devoted to examine whether a number is a prime or not, Kao Shugen Fa (Prime Test,1872) of Li Shanlan and Shugen Congcao (Sequal to the Prime Test,1897) of Fang Shirong have ranked high in the history of mathematics in the late Qing Dynasty. Based on the texts of the two books,this paper lays stress on the investigation on factorization method for applying and Li’s method for finding exponent completing that appeared in Fang’s book. The result shows that mathematicians in the late Qing Dynasty had gained better appreciation of the little Fermat theorem and Fermat’s factorization method. Some mistakes and omissions,which appeared in papers published in past years, have been corrected in the paper. The paper considers it necessary to inquire further into the origin of contents and mathematical method appearing in the two books.
Key words  Kao Shugen Fa (Prime test), Shugen Congcao (Sequal to the Prime Test),
the little Fermat theorem,Fermat’s factorization method

Utilization and Improvement of the Farming Soil in the Guanzhong (Central Shaanxi) Plain in northwest China during Qin-Han Periods
DU Juan
( Center for Historical Environment and Socio-Economic Development in Northwest China of Shaanxi Normal University, Xi’an 710062, China)

Abstracts  As the product of agriculture activity, Loutu soil is modern agricultural soil on the earth’s surface in the Guanzhong Plain. Lots of knowledge and experience of the utilization, improvement and fertilization of soil were accumulated by the ancient Chinese in their agricultural production over a long period of time, and extensively recorded in ancient agricultural books and documents about agricultural production. Through searching the information of soil in ancient agricultural books and relevant documents of the pre-Qin days and the Western and Eastern Dynasties, this paper analyse the soil environment and the methods of utilizing and improving soil during the Qin-Han Periods. Research shows that though soil in the Guanzhong Plain is better than in other regions of China in the Qin-Han Periods, some factors such as the undesirable soil texture, the shortage of soil moisture and nutrient and soil salinization had caused the weakening of the workability of soil. In the Qin-Han periods, intensive cultivation effectively improved the soil environment including soil texture, soil structure, soil moisture and soil nutrient, which brought about the transformation of soil from natural soil to agrological soil.
Key words  Qin-Han Periods, Guanzhong Plain, soil environment, The book of Fanshengzhi, utilization and improvement

A Study on the Tree Peony Manuals in Ancient China
LI Nana1,2,BAI Xinxiang2,DAI Silan1,WANG Zifan1
(1.College of Landscape Architecture,Beijing Forestry University,National Flower Engineering Research Center,Beijing 100083,China;2.Forestry College,Guizhou University,Guiyang 550025,China)

Abstract   Tree peony was the most important flower in ancient China and occupied an important place in the minds of Chinese people.So a lot of manuals on tree peony were produced in the long ancient history of Chinese flower culture.Based on previous analysis of ancient Chinese manuals on tree peony,the authors consulted ancient books and literatures.This paper makes a further research on the number of tree peony manuals and their existing status in ancient China.The result shows that the number of ancient Chinese tree peony manuals in history amounts to 41 and their existing number is 16.The extant tree peony manuals are classified into two kinds according to their contents: varieties records and integration.In addition,the paper makes an intensive analysis of the different styles of tree peony manuals.Most of the tree peony manuals approximately include four parts: preface,text,appendix and postscript.The 16 extant ancient Chinese supply detailed reference material for studying tree peony culture in ancient China.They are indeed of great value as reference for the cultivation and breeding of tree peony nowadays.
Key words   tree peony manuals; existing situation; classification; style


Comparative Study Between The Key to Arithmetic and Some Similar Problems in Ancient Chinese Mathematics

GUO Yuanyuan
(College of Humanities, Shanghai Jiao Tong University,shanghai 200240,China)

Abstract  The comparative study between the 15th century Arab mathematician al-Kashi’s The Key to Arithmetic(1427)and some similar problems in ancient Chinese mathematics has always been a research focus for Chinese mathematicians. In view of previous domestic research proceeding from secondary documents and through the similarity of several issues, it is concluded that the relevant content of The Key to Arithmetic has been influenced by the mathematicians of Song and Yuan Dynasties in China. Based on the interpretation of the original Arabic document and relatively comprehensive and systematic comparative analysis, this article comes to realize that there are some obvious differences among them in terms of its text, method and intention. In the light of the history of Arab mathematics, almost all of the content of the book carry on the early tradition of Arab mathematics from the 10th to the 12th century. Thus, The Key to Arithmetic should not be under the direct impact of the mathematics of Song and Yuan Dynasties in China.
Key words  The Key to Arithmetic, the extraction of Zengcheng, the extraction of Licheng,
arithmetic triangle