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    Re: Zheng He steered by the stars?
    From: Gerard Mittelstaedt
    Date: 2002 Nov 23, 20:55 -0600

     I am fairly sure that the answer can be found in one of the
    volumes of
     Science and civilisation in China,, by Joseph Needham.
     Cambridge [Eng.] University Press,
       1954-<2000 >  illus., maps (part fold.) 26
    Partial Contents:
       v. 1. Introductory orientations.--
    v. 2. History of scientific thought.--
    v. 3. Mathematics and the sciences of the heavens and the earth.--
    v. 4. Physics and physical technology:
      pt. 1. Physics, with the collaboration of Wang Ling and the
       special co-operation of Kenneth Girdwood Robinson.
      pt. 2. Mechanical engineering.
      pt. 3. Civil engineering and nautics  <======= ??
       with the collaboration of Wang Ling and Lu Gwei-Djen.--
    Exactly what volume or part I can not say, perhaps vol 4 pt. 3
    This is the great multi volume work that could answer your query.
    Needham wrote other works that could cover this topic.
    - Gerard Mittelstaedt - wearing librarian hat.
    Peter Fogg wrote:
    > That the Chinese were very innovative in all sorts of technical areas
    > seems clear.
    > However a new book '1421, The Year China Discovered the World', by Gavin
    > Menzies, published in Australia by Random House, postulates that the
    > Chinese admiral Zheng He and his fleet of massive 9 masted junks
    > explored much of what we assume was left to European navigators to
    > 'discover' some centuries later.
    > Its fascinating stuff. The contention is that not only did his vice
    > admirals Hong Bao and Zhou Man in different ships circumnavigate
    > Australia (hitherto first credited to the Englishman Flinders in the
    > early 19th century) but that settlements were established complete with
    > observation towers and mines were exploited for a variety of minerals.
    > I should add that this theory is being contested, not least by Chinese
    > historians who thought they already knew all about Zheng He.
    > The part that intrigues me is the idea that these sailors 'steered by
    > the stars'.
    > The history of European navigation is fairly well known and documented.
    > But does anyboby know about what instuments and techniques Chinese junk
    > sailors may have had at their disposal? I know they had the compass, and
    > may have been introduced it to the west, but star measuring instruments?
    > Polynesians had a compass that was the night sky itself, knew the
    > diffferent stars as they rose and set and could set course according to
    > them. I suppose any people that studied the stars for long enough could
    > have independantly devised ways of using star positions.
    > Does anyone know any more?
    Gerard Mittelstaedt    mitt{at}hiline.net
    McAllen, Texas

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