Su Song (Su Sung)

SUBJECT AREA: Horology
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b. 1020 China
d. 1101 China
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Chinese astronomer and maker of a mechanical clock.
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Su Song had a model armillary sphere in his home, which enabled him to study and understand the instrument, but he could not receive an imperial command to make a full-size one before holding an official position. This he attained, and he moved in high official circles in Imperial China; his official appointments included Ambassador, Minister of State and Deputy Imperial Tutor. At the same time he was an outstanding astronomer and calendrical scientist. With the assistance of Han Gonglian, he constructed a water-driven mechanical escapement clock and clocktower in 1088, which he described in detail in his Xin Yi Xian Fa Yao, completed in 1094; this book was noteworthy for illustrations of the armillary sphere and its component parts. The tower included an armillary sphere and celestial globe with clock drive. By applying clockwork to the observational side of the sphere, Su Song anticipated the clockwork drive of the telescope introduced by Robert Hooke six centuries later.
Su Song was also the pharmaceutical naturalist of the Tu Jing Ben Cao of 1061.
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Bibliography
1094, Xin Yi Xian Fa Yao.
Further Reading
J.Needham, Science and Civilisation in China, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1959–86, Vols III, pp. 208, 361–6; VI. 1, 140, 174, 227, 252, 281, 335, 475, 477;
Heavenly Clockwork, 1960, pp. 2–60, 64, 68, 70, 93–4, 115–18, 123–4, 133, 160, 162;
Clerks and Craftsmen in China and the West, 1970, pp. 9, 6–7, 11–12, 91, 130–1, 192, 210ff., 221–3, 235, 280, 406.
LRD

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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