Chinese Scientific And Technical Advances During The Tang And Sung Dynasties

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Chinese Scientific and Technical Advances during the Tang and Sung Dynasties

Technical and Scientific Advancements in Tang Dynasty

Clockworks and Timekeeping

Technology during the Tang period was built also upon the precedents of the past. The mechanical gear systems of Zhang Heng and Ma Jun gave the Tang engineer, astronomer, and monk Yi Xing a great source of influence when he invented the world's first clockwork escapement mechanism in 725. This was used alongside a clock and waterwheel to power a rotating armillary sphere in representation of astronomical observation. Yi Xing's device also had a mechanically-timed bell that was struck automatically every hour, and a drum that was struck automatically every quarter hour; essentially, a striking clock. Yi Xing's astronomical clock and water-powered armillary sphere became well known throughout the country, since students attempting to pass the imperial examinations by 730 had to write an essay on the device as an exam requirement. However, the most common type of public and palace timekeeping device was the inflow clepsydra, improved in about 610 by the Sui Dynasty engineers Geng Xun and Yuwen Kai when they provided a steelyard balance that allowed seasonal adjustment in the pressure head of the compensating tank and could then control the rate of flow for different lengths of day and night.

Mechanical Delights and Automatons

There were many other technically impressive mechanical inventions during the Tang era. This included a 0.91 m tall mechanical wine server of the early 8th century that was in the shape of an artificial mountain, carved out of iron and rested on a lacquered-wooden tortoise frame. This intricate device used a hydraulic pump that siphoned wine out of metal -headed faucets, as well as tilting bowls that were timed to dip wine down, by force of gravity when filled, into an artificial lake that had intricate iron leaves popping up as trays for placing party treats. while Ma Jun in the 3rd century had an entire mechanical puppet theater operated by the rotation of a waterwheel.

This weight-and-lever mechanism was exactly like Heron's penny slot machine. Another device included one by Wang Ju, whose "wooden otter" could allegedly catch fish; Needham suspects a of some kind was employed here. In addition to compiling pharmacopeias, the Tang fostered learning in medicine by upholding imperial medical colleges, state examinations for doctors, and publishing forensic manuals for physicians. Authors of medicine in the Tang include Zhen Qian and Sun Simiao , the former who first identified in writing that patients with diabetes had an excess of sugar in their urine, and the latter who was the first to recognize that diabetic patients should avoid consuming alcohol and starchy foods. As written by Zhen Qian and others in the Tang, the thyroid glands of sheep and pigs were successfully used to treat goiters; thyroid extracts were not used to treat patients with goiter in the West until 1890.

Structural Engineering

In the realm of technical Chinese architecture, there were also government standard building codes, outlined in the early Tang book of the “Yingshan ...
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