Author: changabula

Chinese Inventions, Discoveries and Other Contributions   [Copy link] 中文

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Post time 2007-1-26 09:50:11 |Display all floors
Plant Life

The Chinese have been cultivating plants for several thousand years.

Gardens have long been an integral part of Chinese culture, written about by scholars and prized by emperors and priests; think of Chinese scrolls traced with plum blossoms and wood-block prints etched with pine branches or bamboo.

The West has not only received a great number of fine plants from China, it's also been influenced by the Chinese appreciation of plants, by their ideas on striving to have something in bloom year-round, and by their treasuring shape as well as bloom.

A surprising number of our showiest and favorite plants are native to China, brought to the Western world by early plant explorers. Many varieties of crabapples, chrysanthemums, lilacs, wisteria, azaleas, rhododendron, camellias, and peonies originated in China, where they have been important in gardens, literature, and art for centuries.

Some of the West's most popular fruits - peaches, apricots, and citrus fruits - came from China, as did some of the most common flowers.

Peaches:
The Peach (Prunus persica) is a tree native to China that bears a juicy fruit of the same name. The scientific name persica derives from an early European belief that peaches were native to Persia (now Iran). The modern botanical consensus is that they originate in China, and were introduced to Persia and the Mediterranean region along the Silk Road in early historical times, probably by about 2000 BC (Huxley et al. 1992).

  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peach
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Apricots:
The apricot (Prunus armeniaca) is a fruit-bearing tree, thought to be native to China and spread to Europe through Armenia. It is thought to have originated in northeastern China near the Russian border.

  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apricots
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Figures: Peach Flowers and Apricots

[ Last edited by changabula at 2007-2-8 05:07 PM ]
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Post time 2007-1-26 09:51:44 |Display all floors
Political Theory

Many Western political and social thinkers admired the Chinese bureaucratic system of government. In particular, the German philosopher and mathematician Leibnitz (1646-1716), the Frenchman Voltaire (1694-1778), and the French political economists of the late 1700s, known as the Physiocrats, were inspired by Chinese thought, as was America's Ralph Waldo Emerson.

  1. http://afe.easia.columbia.edu/song/readings/inventions_ques.htm
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Post time 2007-1-26 09:57:46 |Display all floors
Alchemy (Chemistry)

The Taoist search for the elixir of life (a life-extending potion) led to much experimentation with changing the state of minerals. The Chinese practice appears to have spread first to the Arab world and then to Europe. Chinese alchemy predates that of the Egyptians in Alexandria and other cities by about two centuries, beginning by 133 B.C.

Chinese alchemy used chemical techniques to prepare elixirs, which were perfected substances that brought about personal transcendence and eternal life. Elixirs could also be used for medical purposes and to transform ordinary metals into gold. That is how an alchemist might have defined "external alchemy" (wai-tan); its analogue, "internal alchemy" (nei-tan). used the language of the laboratory to teach meditational (or sometimes sexual) disciplines in which the adept's body was visualized as the reaction vessel and furnace. In the first millennium the two alchemies were regularly practiced together, but after 1200 little activity in the external art was recorded.

The materials and apparatus of alchemy were on the whole the same as those of pharmacology, with some contributions from metallurgy and other practical chemical arts. Certain developments, such as elaborate distilling vessels, appear so exclusively in alchemical literature that they may have originated there. The same may be said of gunpowder. What may be the earliest mention of flare mixture composition appears, oddly enough, in a list of external alchemists' misguided activities in a treatise on internal alchemy written not later than the end of the ninth century: "There was a case in which sulphur and realgar were mixed with saltpeter and honey, and burnt. Flames leapt up, burning the alchemist's hands and face and incinerating the building."

The roughly 100 remaining wai-tan books are probably the world's richest source for what was known about reactions and their products up to 1200. They reveal, in fact, that alchemy was not entirely qualitative; some adepts took a lively interest in what weights of reagents will combine to form a new substance.

Knowledge of chemical change was a means and by-product, but not the aim, of external alchemy. For some practitioners the goal was hardly distinguishable from that of medicine. Others were less interested in a product that would bring health or immortality than in the alchemical process, which they designed to serve as a model of the great cycles of nature, the rhythms of the Tao.

No mortal could experience the cosmic cycles in their millennial sweep. These alchemists accelerated the scale of time, using theories based on yinyang, the five phases, and numerology, to create, in a laboratory procedure that might require a few weeks to a year, an object of mystic contemplation. Their principle, like that of the Pythagoreans before them, was that to grasp the constant patterns that underlie the phenomenal chaos of experience is to be freed from the bonds of mortal finitude. As in the other Chinese sciences, the motivation that led to chemical discovery was connected to the deepest values of the seekers.

  1. http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/~nsivin/ropp.html
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[ Last edited by changabula at 2007-2-9 04:51 AM ]
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Post time 2007-1-26 10:04:41 |Display all floors
Bamboo Pipe

The Chinese court musician Ling-lun created the first reed instrument, the bamboo pipe, sometime between 3000 and 2501 B.C. By 2500 B.C., Chinese music grew more complex, employing a five-note scale.

  1. http://www.minnesota-china.com/Education/emSciTech/inventions.htm
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The Foundation Tone
An ancient Chinese myth tells of the discovery of the "foundation tone," which, in addition to being a musical note of specific pitch, also had political implications, since each dynasty was thought to have its own "proper pitch." Tones are an indispensable part of Chinese literature, as characters in poetry and prose were chosen according to tones and rhymes for their euphony. This use of language helps in reconstructing the pronunciation of Old Chinese and Middle Chinese, since the Chinese writing system is logographic. The foundation tone was produced when Ling Lun, the founder of Chinese music and a scholar, went to the western mountain area of China and cut a bamboo pipe in such a way that it produced the correct sound. He is said to have traveled to a distant land and made a set of 12 flutes with bamboo. This set of flutes could produce 12 tones and became the basis of music.

  1. http://www.crystalinks.com/mythology3.html
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[ Last edited by changabula at 2007-2-27 01:48 AM ]
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Post time 2007-1-28 09:40:55 |Display all floors

Qi Min Yao Shu (齐民要术)

http://www.chinaculture.org/gb/e ... 4/content_22529.htm

Essential Techniques for the Peasantry

Qimin Yaoshu (Essential Techniques for the Peasantry) is an important agronomic book including 10 volumes written by Jia Sixie in the Northern and Southern Dynasties (420-581). Referring to about 200 kinds of ancient books, Qimin Yaoshu offers valuable reference materials.

It was recorded that the methods to bed and foster corn, melon and fruit, vegetable and tree, the methods to raise livestock, poultry and fish, the methods to make alcohol, soy sauce, vinegar, skilly, cake, meal, maltose and sugar, the methods to boil mucus, and the methods to make brush pen and sumi. In the final part it listed many kinds of vegetable, melon and fruit that would not grow in northern China. The book summed up production experience of agriculture and stockbreeding before the sixth century in areas from the Yellow River to the Huaihe River. It also suggested that agriculture should take every production factor into overall consideration and pay special attention to every step in the production process. Qimin Yaoshu provides important historical materials for the research on the production and the society of the Northern Dynasty (386-581).

[ Last edited by northwest at 2007-1-28 09:44 AM ]
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Post time 2007-1-29 03:13:22 |Display all floors

Enlightenment Here.

Congratulations to Changabula and northwest especially for these fascinating thumb nail sketch histories of the line of great Chinese heroes and inventors. I am very interested and though I have heard of some I have not seen them all in such a compilation. Well done. We Chinese indeed can be proud of our 5000 years of continued civilisation. The mere fact that we survived and prospered showed the resilience and intelligence of our forebears. The very survival and maintainence of the basics of life must have been of extreme efforts and ingenuity. The development in science, culture, calligraphy and art, poems and literature, mechanical devises and storage, boat building and compass and the voyages to foreign places are all there. These items should be publicised more in text books and articles for the common Chinese to learn and appreciate. Then the world may follow and realised the rich contributions the Chinese have made to civilisation.

Most impressive and overwhelming. Keep up the good work. Let the whole world rejoice and join in this celebration of the good and constructive deeds of the human race, instead of the constant destruction and carnage we see all around us .   


[ Last edited by mengzhi at 2007-1-29 05:31 AM ]

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Post time 2007-1-29 03:48:19 |Display all floors
Originally posted by mengzhi at 2007-1-29 03:13
Congratulations to Changabula and northwest especially for these fascinating thumb nail sketch histories of the line of great Chinese heroes and inventors. I am very interested and t ...


Thank you mengzhi for your knd thoughts and best wishes. You have expressed the way I felt in a very profound way.

I want to be helpful here and to get away from any controversy. I am interested in history but don't have a history background. Thats why I would like as many people, who are much better at it than me, to contribute. I wish someone who is very good at compiling such facts would just sort it out in a logical manner..

[ Last edited by changabula at 2007-1-29 03:49 AM ]
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