Shen Kuo was a polymath Chinese scientist and statesman of the Song
Dynasty (960–1279). Excelling in many fields of study and statecraft,
he was a mathematician, astronomer, meteorologist, geologist,
zoologist, botanist, pharmacologist, agronomist, ethnographer,
encyclopedist, and poet. He was the head official for the Bureau of
Astronomy in the Song court, as well as an Assistant Minister of
Imperial Hospitality. In his Dream Pool Essays of 1088, Shen was the
first to describe the magnetic needle compass, which would be used for
navigation (first described in Europe by Alexander Neckam in 1187).
Shen Kuo devised a geological theory of land formation, or
geomorphology, based upon findings of inland marine fossils, knowledge
of soil erosion, and the deposition of silt. He also advocated a
theory for gradual climate change, after observing ancient petrified
bamboos that were preserved underground in a dry northern habitat that
did not support their growth in his time. Shen Kuo wrote extensively
about movable type printing invented by Bi Sheng, and because of his
written works the legacy of Bi Sheng and the modern understanding of
the earliest movable type has been handed down to later generations.
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Today's selected anniversaries:
Constantine the Great defeated Maxentius at the Battle of the
Milvian Bridge in Rome, leading him to end the Tetrarchy and become
the only ruler of the Roman Empire.
In New York Harbor, U.S. President Grover Cleveland dedicated the
Statue of Liberty, a gift from France, to commemorate the centennial
of the United States Declaration of Independence.
The Balkans Campaign in World War II: Italy invaded Greece after
Greek prime minister Ioannis Metaxas rejected Italian dictator Benito
Mussolini's ultimatum demanding the occupation of Greek territory.
The Kingdom of the Netherlands was re-founded as a federacy with the
proclamation of the Charter for the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
Nostra Aetate, the "Declaration on the Relation of the Church with
Non-Christian Religions" of the Second Vatican Council, was
promulgated by Pope Paul VI, absolving the Jews of the killing of
Jesus, and calling for increased relations with all non-Christian
Wiktionary's Word of the day:
retinue: A group of servants or attendants, especially of someone
Wikiquote of the day:
I have dreams, and I have nightmares. I overcame the nightmares
because of my dreams. -- Jonas Salk