Shen Kuo

Shen KuaKuo, ShenShen Gua
Shen Kuo (1031–1095) or Shen Gua, courtesy name Cunzhong and pseudonym Mengqi (now usually given as Mengxi) Weng, was a Chinese polymathic scientist and statesman of the Song dynasty (960–1279).wikipedia
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History of the Song dynasty

New Policies GroupSong ZhunMongol soldiers
At court his political allegiance was to the Reformist faction known as the New Policies Group, headed by Chancellor Wang Anshi (1021–1085).
The Song is considered a high point of classical Chinese innovation in science and technology, an era that featured prominent intellectual figures such as Shen Kuo and Su Song and the revolutionary use of gunpowder weapons.

Dream Pool Essays

Mengxi BitanDream Pool EssayThe Dream Pool Essays
In his Dream Pool Essays or Dream Torrent Essays (夢溪筆談; Mengxi Bitan) of 1088, Shen was the first to describe the magnetic needle compass, which would be used for navigation (first described in Europe by Alexander Neckam in 1187).
The Dream Pool Essays or Dream Torrent Essays (Pinyin: Mèng Xī Bǐ Tán; Wade-Giles: Meng⁴ Hsi¹ Pi³-t'an²; Chinese: 夢溪筆談/梦溪笔谈) was an extensive book written by the Chinese polymath and statesman Shen Kuo (1031–1095) by 1088 AD, during the Song dynasty (960–1279) of China.

Song dynasty

SongSouthern Song dynastyNorthern Song dynasty
Shen Kuo (1031–1095) or Shen Gua, courtesy name Cunzhong and pseudonym Mengqi (now usually given as Mengxi) Weng, was a Chinese polymathic scientist and statesman of the Song dynasty (960–1279).
The Song dynasty managed to win several military victories over the Tanguts in the early 11th century, culminating in a campaign led by the polymath scientist, general, and statesman Shen Kuo (1031–1095).

Chinese mathematics

Chinese mathematicianmathematicsChinese mathematical
Excelling in many fields of study and statecraft, he was a mathematician, astronomer, meteorologist, geologist, entomologist, anatomist, climatologist, zoologist, botanist, pharmacologist, medical scientist, agronomist, archaeologist, ethnographer, cartographer, geographer, geophysicist, mineralogist, encyclopedist, military general, diplomat, hydraulic engineer, inventor, economist, academy chancellor, finance minister, governmental state inspector, philosopher, art critic, poet, and musician.
Knowledge of Pascal's triangle has also been shown to have existed in China centuries before Pascal, such as the Song dynasty Chinese polymath Shen Kuo.

List of Chinese inventions

Chinese inventionsinventionsdevelopment of printed sheets
Excelling in many fields of study and statecraft, he was a mathematician, astronomer, meteorologist, geologist, entomologist, anatomist, climatologist, zoologist, botanist, pharmacologist, medical scientist, agronomist, archaeologist, ethnographer, cartographer, geographer, geophysicist, mineralogist, encyclopedist, military general, diplomat, hydraulic engineer, inventor, economist, academy chancellor, finance minister, governmental state inspector, philosopher, art critic, poet, and musician.
Movable type: The polymath scientist and official Shen Kuo (1031–1095) of the Song dynasty (960–1279) was the first to describe the process of movable type printing in his Dream Pool Essays of 1088.

Lock (water navigation)

locklockscanal lock
He was the first literary figure in China to mention the use of the drydock to repair boats suspended out of water, and also wrote of the effectiveness of the relatively new invention of the canal pound lock. Shen also wrote about the effectiveness of the new invention (i.e. by the 10th century engineer Qiao Weiyo) of the pound lock to replace the old flash lock design used in canals.
They replaced earlier double slipways that had caused trouble and are mentioned by the Chinese polymath Shen Kuo (1031–1095) in his book Dream Pool Essays (published in 1088), and fully described in the Chinese historical text Song Shi (compiled in 1345):

Dry dock

drydockfloating dry dockgraving dock
He was the first literary figure in China to mention the use of the drydock to repair boats suspended out of water, and also wrote of the effectiveness of the relatively new invention of the canal pound lock.
In 1088, Song Dynasty scientist and statesman Shen Kuo (1031–1095) wrote in his Dream Pool Essays:

Wei Pu

Alongside his colleague Wei Pu, Shen planned to map the orbital paths of the Moon and the planets in an intensive five-year project involving daily observations, yet this was thwarted by political opponents at court.
Wei became a trusted colleague of the famous Song polymath statesman and scientist Shen Kuo (1031-1095 AD), who served as the head official for the Bureau of Astronomy, and worked on various projects with Wei Pu.

History of science and technology in China

ancient ChineseChinaChinese
Shen Kuo (1031–1095) or Shen Gua, courtesy name Cunzhong and pseudonym Mengqi (now usually given as Mengxi) Weng, was a Chinese polymathic scientist and statesman of the Song dynasty (960–1279).
The statesman Shen Kuo is best known for his book known as the Dream Pool Essays (1088 AD).

Hanlin Academy

Bureau of TranslatorsHanlin Imperial Hanlin Academy
In his career as a scholar-official for the central government, Shen Kuo was also an ambassador to the Western Xia Dynasty and Liao Dynasty, a military commander, a director of hydraulic works, and the leading chancellor of the Hanlin Academy.

Chinese astronomy

ChineseastronomyChinese astronomers
Excelling in many fields of study and statecraft, he was a mathematician, astronomer, meteorologist, geologist, entomologist, anatomist, climatologist, zoologist, botanist, pharmacologist, medical scientist, agronomist, archaeologist, ethnographer, cartographer, geographer, geophysicist, mineralogist, encyclopedist, military general, diplomat, hydraulic engineer, inventor, economist, academy chancellor, finance minister, governmental state inspector, philosopher, art critic, poet, and musician.
The later Song Dynasty scientist Shen Kuo (1031–1095 CE) used the models of lunar eclipse and solar eclipse in order to prove that the celestial bodies were round, not flat.

Raised-relief map

relief mapterrain modelPhysical terrain model
Following an old tradition in China, Shen created a raised-relief map while inspecting borderlands.
Shen Kuo (1031-1095) created a raised-relief map using sawdust, wood, beeswax, and wheat paste.

Geomorphology

geomorphologicalgeomorphologistgeomorphic
Shen Kuo devised a geological hypothesis for land formation (geomorphology), based upon findings of inland marine fossils, knowledge of soil erosion, and the deposition of silt.
Another early theory of geomorphology was devised by the polymath Chinese scientist and statesman Shen Kuo (1031–1095).

Hangzhou

Hangzhou, ChinaHangchowLin'an
Shen Kuo was born in Qiantang (modern-day Hangzhou) in the year 1031.
Hangzhou is also the birthplace and final resting place of the scientist Shen Kuo (1031–1095 AD), his tomb being located in the Yuhang district.

Camera obscura

cameracamera obscurascameras obscura
Although Ibn al-Haytham (965–1039) was the first to describe camera obscura, Shen was the first in China to do so, several decades later.
In his 1088 book Dream Pool Essays the Song Dynasty Chinese scientist Shen Kuo (1031–1095) compared the focal point of a concave burning-mirror and the "collecting" hole of camera obscura phenomena to an oar in a rowlock to explain how the images were inverted:

Armillary sphere

armillaryarmillary spheresArmil
To aid his work in astronomy, Shen Kuo made improved designs of the armillary sphere, gnomon, sighting tube, and invented a new type of inflow water clock.
There was also the scientist and statesman Shen Kuo (1031–1095).

Hydraulics

hydraulichydraulicallyhydraulic system
Excelling in many fields of study and statecraft, he was a mathematician, astronomer, meteorologist, geologist, entomologist, anatomist, climatologist, zoologist, botanist, pharmacologist, medical scientist, agronomist, archaeologist, ethnographer, cartographer, geographer, geophysicist, mineralogist, encyclopedist, military general, diplomat, hydraulic engineer, inventor, economist, academy chancellor, finance minister, governmental state inspector, philosopher, art critic, poet, and musician.
In ancient China there was Sunshu Ao (6th century BC), Ximen Bao (5th century BC), Du Shi (circa 31 AD), Zhang Heng (78 – 139 AD), and Ma Jun (200 – 265 AD), while medieval China had Su Song (1020 – 1101 AD) and Shen Kuo (1031–1095).

Jacob's staff

cross-staffcross staffBallastella
His description of an ancient crossbow mechanism which he himself unearthed proved to be a Jacob's staff, a surveying tool which wasn't known in Europe until described by Levi ben Gerson in 1321.
Although it has become quite accepted that ben Gerson first described Jacob's staff, the British Sinologist Joseph Needham theorizes that the Song Dynasty Chinese scientist Shen Kuo (1031–1095), in his Dream Pool Essays of 1088, described a Jacob's staff.

Wang Anshi

Wong on ShekWang An-shiWang An-shih
At court his political allegiance was to the Reformist faction known as the New Policies Group, headed by Chancellor Wang Anshi (1021–1085).
Although Wang had the alliance of such prominent court figures as Shen Kuo, imperial scholar-officials such as Su Dongpo and Ouyang Xiu bitterly opposed these reforms on the grounds of tradition.

Zhenjiang

ChinkiangChin-kiangChenkiang
In the 1070s, Shen had purchased a lavish garden estate on the outskirts of modern-day Zhenjiang, Jiangsu province, a place of great beauty which he named "Dream Brook" ("Mengxi") after he visited it for the first time in 1086.
The 11th-century scientist and statesman Shen Kuo composed his 1088 Dream Pool Essays during his retirement in a garden estate on the outskirts of the city.

Movable type

moveable typeinvention of the printing presstype
Shen wrote extensively about movable type printing invented by Bi Sheng (990–1051), and because of his written works the legacy of Bi Sheng and the modern understanding of the earliest movable type has been handed down to later generations.
As described by the Chinese scholar Shen Kuo (1031–1095):

Science and technology of the Song dynasty

Technology of the Song dynastyTechnology of Song DynastyQiao Weiyo
Shen also wrote about the effectiveness of the new invention (i.e. by the 10th century engineer Qiao Weiyo) of the pound lock to replace the old flash lock design used in canals.
Polymath geniuses – that is, people knowledgeable across an encyclopaedic range of topics – such as Shen Kuo (1031–1095) and Su Song (1020–1101) embodied the spirit of early empirical science and technology in the Song era.

Zhu Yu (author)

Zhu Yu
According to Zhu Yu's book Pingzhou Table Talks (萍洲可談; Pingzhou Ketan) of 1119, Shen Kuo had two marriages; the second wife was the daughter of Zhang Chu, who came from Huainan.
Although the compass needle was first described in detail by the Chinese scientist Shen Kuo (1031–1095) in his Dream Pool Essays of 1088 AD, he did not specifically outline its use for navigation at sea.

Su Shi

Su DongpoNian Nu Jiao: Chibi Huai GuRecord of Stone Bell Mountain
While Shen was appointed as the regional inspector of Zhejiang in 1073, the Emperor requested that Shen pay a visit to the famous poet Su Shi (1037–1101), then an administrator in Hangzhou.
For example, although the prominent scientist and statesman Shen Kuo (1031–1095) was one of Wang Anshi's most trusted associates and political allies, Shen nonetheless befriended Su Shi.

Yan'an

YenanYan’anYan An
A few years after Song Dynasty military forces had made victorious territorial gains against the Tanguts of the Western Xia, in 1080 Shen Kuo was entrusted as a military officer in defense of Yanzhou (modern-day Yan'an, Shaanxi province).
It was once successfully defended by the Song Dynasty (960–1279) era Chinese scientist, statesman, and general Shen Kuo (1031–1095 AD).