Astronomy and Mathematics in Ancient China: The 'Zhou Bi by Christopher Cullen

By Christopher Cullen

This can be a learn and translation of the Zhou bi suan jing, a chinese language paintings on astronomy and arithmetic that reached its ultimate shape round the first century advert. the writer offers the 1st simply obtainable advent to the constructing mathematical and observational practices of historic chinese language astronomers and indicates how the new release and validation of information concerning the heavens in Han dynasty China comparable heavily to advancements in statecraft and politics. This e-book may be interesting studying for students within the historical past of technology, chinese language heritage, and astronomy.

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Additional info for Astronomy and Mathematics in Ancient China: The 'Zhou Bi Suan Jing' (Needham Research Institute Studies) (1st Edition)

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The equivalence used in paragraph #12 is: 19 solar cycles = 235 mean lunar cycles. Nineteen solar cycles of 365 1/4 days do not amount to a whole number of days, and hence this period cannot contain integral numbers of civil years and civil months. Perhaps for that reason the direct calculation of the month length made in #K15 and #K16 is based on the number of mean lunar cycles in 76 years, for which we may say: 76 civil years = 76 solar cycles = 4 x 235 months = 4 x 235 mean lunations. 22 See#D6and#Kll.

As terrestrial longitude is measured from the meridian of Greenwich, right ascension is measured from the position of the sun at the spring equinox. Confusingly, celestial longitude and latitude are not the same things as right ascension and declination, but are used in a different reference system, based on the ecliptic rather than the celestial equator. 18 The actual Chinese unit used is the du S 'graduation1; it is close to the Western degree, since 360° = 365 1/4 du. During the Western Han it was assumed that the sun moved through the system of the xiu at a constant 1 du per day, so that it completed its circuit in 365 1/4 days.

A Babylonian might well have seen Ptolemy's work differently, and I think that most Chinese astronomers would have tended to agree with him. Cosmography in ancient China Like all ancient cultures, China had a rich fund of stories to explain the origins of human civilisation and the universe within which human beings existed. For the present purpose, however, we need not concern ourselves with the Chinese equivalents of Atlas in ancient Greece or of Tiamat in Babylonia. Such material needs the methods of the mythographer rather than the historian of science.

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