Shen Kuo

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Shen Kuo (1031-1095)

Shen Kuo eller Shen Gua (kinesisk: 沈括, pinyin: Shěn Kuò; Wade-Giles: Shen K'uo, stilnavn Cunzhong (存中) og psevdonym Mengqi Weng / Menxi Weng 夢溪翁; født 1031 i Qiantang i Kina, død 1095 i Runzhou/Zhenjiang) var en kinesisk mandarin og medlem av Hanlin-akademiet under Song-dynastiet. Han var en polyhistor som utmerket seg som naturvitenskapsmann, matematiker, geolog, feltherre, diplomat og oppfinner av kompasset. Han gjelder for å være Song-tidens fremste vitenskapsmann.

Liv og virke[rediger | rediger kilde]

Shen ble oppdratt klassisk og bestod de kinesiske embedseksamener og nådde doktorgraden jinshi.

Han ble leder for det keiserlige akademis skrivere og skattmester. Det tillå hans embedsplikter å holde orden på kanal- og dikearbeidene ved elvene Shuhe og Bianhe.

Senere dro han til Runzhou (i Zhenjiang) i provinsen Jiangsu, der han foretok vitenskapelige studier i Mengxi-haven. I et verk på 30 bind, kalt Meng Xi Bi Tan (drømmeessayene) befattet han seg med matematikk, astronomi, geografi, geologi, mineralogi, kjemi, fysikk, metallurgi, meteorologi, vannvesen, medisin, arkitektur, biologi og jordbruk.

Han oppdaget at kompassnålen ikke pekte mot den geografiske nordpol, men mot den magnetiske nordpol, og at man ved korrekturtabell kunne benytte kompasset bedre i skipsfarten.

På geologiens område utviklet han en hypotese om jordformasjonenes tilblivelse og sedimentering, på grunnlag av funn av fossiliserte sjøsnegler mange hundre kilometer fra havet.

Han beskjeftiget seg med buddhistmunken Yi Xing (672-717) fra Tang-dynastiets tid. Han hadde utviklet et desimalfritt tallsystem som fungerte også i meget store beregninger.

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