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

By Christopher Cullen

ISBN-10: 0521035376

ISBN-13: 9780521035378

It is a research 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 available advent to the constructing mathematical and observational practices of historical chinese language astronomers and indicates how the iteration and validation of data in regards to the heavens in Han dynasty China comparable heavily to advancements in statecraft and politics. This ebook should be attention-grabbing analyzing for students within the historical past of technology, chinese language background, and astronomy.

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

Sample text

This is not an easy matter since, as already mentioned, the behaviour of the sun-moon-earth system is complex. 75 days. Further, it must be remembered that the days used here are mean days. Days as actually observed with reference to the sun vary in length by about twenty minutes in the course of a year, complicating matters further. All this is however an anachronism if we are to look at matters from the point of view of an ancient Chinese calendrical astronomer. All he had to do to be hailed as successful was not to be seen to be wrong.

This last 'resonance period' is the longest one likely to be of any practical use. One more is however known in // of the quarter-remainder type. It is: (4) 4560 years: one yuan jt , equal to 3 ji, 60 bu, or 240 zhang (the 'Epoch Cycle'). During the Han period it became usual to name years as well as days using the sixty-fold cycle. By providing a multiple of 60 years, the yuan ensures repetition of the year number as well as all other system origin conditions. Finally, the Zhou bi mentions a resonance period which occurs nowhere else: (5) 319 20 years: one;/ ® (note different character from that in 3 above), equal to 7 yuan.

This system was used throughout the Qin dynasty. When the first Han emperor was proclaimed in 202 BC he continued to use much of the state machinery and ritual of his predecessors, including the Zhuan Xu li, which was not replaced until nearly a century later. The Zhuan Xu li was a system of the quarter-remainder type described above. As has already been indicated, such systems differ amongst themselves only in their choice of /* yuan MlC 'system origin' or epoch. According to the account given by Chinese historians in the first century AD, at the time of the Qin unification there are said to have been six different astronomical systems in circulation (Han shu 21a, 973).

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Astronomy and Mathematics in Ancient China: The 'Zhou Bi Suan Jing' (Needham Research Institute Studies) (1st Edition) by Christopher Cullen

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