Brill’s Encyclopedia of China

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(1,349 words)

There are already descriptions and attempts at explanation of physical phenomena in Chinese texts of the 4th century BCE, e.g. the effect of levers and the optical phenomenon of refraction. There are reports of physical phenomena in many texts up to the 17th century, and most prominent among these is concern with the anomalies of the compass. However, there were no attempts to systematize the manifold observations and to use them as the basis of systematic and purposeful research. At first, West…

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Amelung, Iwo, “Physics”, in: Brill’s Encyclopedia of China, Managing Editor English Edition: Daniel Leese. Consulted online on 28 November 2023 <>
First published online: 2008
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004168633, 20121018

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