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

By Christopher Cullen

It is a examine 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 historic chinese language astronomers and exhibits how the new release and validation of data concerning the heavens in Han dynasty China similar heavily to advancements in statecraft and politics. This e-book should be interesting examining for students within the historical past of technology, chinese language heritage, and astronomy.

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First released 1995
ebook ISBN13: 9780802779434

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

Sample text

0306 days each month, and after about thirty months the accumulated deficit will amount to a whole day. To take account of this it is necessary to allow two large months in succession to occur at predetermined intervals. Precisely when this is done depends on the value for the length of the mean lunation used by the astronomical 22 The background of the Zhou bi system in question. 53085 days to seven significant figures). There is however no indication of when successive large months are to be inserted.

Even assuming perfect accuracy in locating the critical days, while most cycles will turn out to be 365 days long, some will turn out to be 366 days long. Over a long enough period the average will turn out to be something like 365 1/4 days. This point is made in the Zhou bi, paragraphs #K9 to #K11. Clearly the real solar cycle is about something other than what the sun happens to be doing at noon. In the language of spherical astronomy, what is happening is that in this period the sun is moving once round a great circle on the celestial sphere against the background of the stars.

In AD 9, after having been the effective ruler for some years, Wang caused the boy who held the throne as nominal Han sovereign to go through a ceremony of abdication in his favour, and took the throne as emperor with the title Xin iff 'New' for his dynasty (Han shu 99a, 4099-100). Liu Xin became one of Wang's chief ministers, and provided intellectual support for Yang's claim to be patterning his government on the model of antiquity. Despite his membership of the old imperial clan Liu survived a number of political 32 The background of the Zhou bi purges during the next three decades, including some involving his own children, until in AD 23 he was executed after the discovery of a plot to assassinate Wang and restore the Han to power.

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