Exploitation of the Works of Nature 04-15-2004 15:10

The scientific work Exploitation of the Works of Nature was written 300 years ago. The farming techniques and security measures in coal mining recorded in the book are still applicable even today.

The author of this book is Song Yingxing. He was born in 1587 in Jiangxi Province. He lived in the latter part of China's feudal society when commodity economy began to flourish, and agriculture, handicraft industry and traffic on land and water developed rapidly.

Song Yingxing went to the capital city to take the national imperial examinations for five times. On the way he had opportunities to investigate the manufacture process in workshops. At the age of 50 he finished his Exploitation of the Works of Nature that contained the cream of traditional Chinese science and technology.

The 18锛峷olume Exploitation of the Works of Nature deals with agriculture, handicraft industry, technological process, and so on. It has 122 illustrations.

The book starts with the volume "On Crop Growing" which introduced rice breeding, seed selection, planting, collecting and manufacture of food锛峱rocessing apparatus. This reflects the author's view that agriculture is the basis of China's economy.

Some farming methods recorded in Song Yingxing's book are still used even today in many rural places. The volume says that due to shortage of water, paddy rice turns into upland rice. This virtually touches on the theory on species transformation. Another place of the book touches on the same phenomenon when it records the breeding of new species of silkworm by artificial hybridisation.

The volume "On Weaving" introduces tools and technology of weaving. This cotton fluffer was the most advanced one in the world of that time.

"On Forging" registers metal processing techniques such as quenching and annealing. To meet the need of smelting industry, piston bellows were widely used in China. They were the most advanced blast device in the world of that time. Their use in China predated Europe by 100 years.

The volume "On Paper Making" documents the paper making technology锛 "On Dyeing" deals with the recipes of pigments for silk colouring锛 "On Potting" deals with the techniques of pottery production锛 and there are special volumes on sugar refining, ship building and steering, and so on. In the 17th century the book found readers out of China and aroused repercussion in the continent of Europe. In 1866 an English translation with a subtitle "Chinese Technology in the 17th Century" was published in the United States of America.

Besides, Song Yingxing's book records notions about number and quantity, specific gravity, variation of materials, conservation of matter and other important research achievements in ancient China. The book praises Nature for its power and ingenuity to create all things in the world. It holds that only with due respect to the work of nature and proper application of work of man, can humankind explore nature and benefit from it.

Editor:Wang Ping

About Us . Get the Channel? . Contact Us Xinhua . People's Daily . China Daily . CRI . . cycnet . eastday .
Copyright © 2005 China Central Television, All Rights Reserved