Tuesday, December 12, 2006
The list of Chinese inventions is astounding to a Westerner
History of Chinese technology / Wikipedia.org
Among the scientific accomplishments of China were early seismological detectors,
the double-action piston pump,
the iron plough,
the multi-tube seed drill,
the suspension bridge,
natural gas as fuel,
the magnetic compass,
the raised-relief map,
Paper, printing, and gunpowder are celebrated in Chinese culture as the Four Great Inventions of ancient China.
Chinese astronomers were also among the first to record observations of a supernova.
One question that has been the subject of debate among historians has been why China did not develop a scientific revolution and why Chinese technology fell behind that of Europe. Many hypotheses have been proposed ranging from the cultural to the political and economic. Nathan Sivin has argued that China indeed had a scientific revolution in the 17th Century and that we are still far from understanding the scientific revolutions of the West and China in all their political, economic and social ramifications. John K. Fairbank argued that the Chinese political system was hostile to scientific progress.
More recent historians have questioned political and cultural explanations and have focused more on economic causes. Mark Elvin's high level equilibrium trap is one well-known example of this line of thought, as well as Kenneth Pomeranz' argument that resources from the New World were made crucial difference between European and Chinese development.
Chinese mathematics evolved independently from Greek mathematics and is therefore of great interest in the history of mathematics.