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On the trail of Shi Qiong

Gerhard Schmitt (Berlin)

Shi Qiong stood out as geographer who, very likely, invented the compass and, above all, as astronomer who were to leave his discoveries to his son Shi Shen. He saw faint stars invisible to the naked eye, viz. out of an opening in the ceiling of a cellar through his sighting-tube. And he knew about sunspots from indirect observations by means of a mirror tub filled with blackened water. After his conversion to the DOCTRINE (Dao) he served his compatriot Lao Tan, an ethnic Rong like him, renouncing scientific activities beyond ritual needs. The Daodejing written between -400 and -374 in Ruicheng/Shanxi, the first capital of Wei, is my source. Only one or two of the relevant places in it can be elaborated on within the time allotted.

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