Talk:Su Song

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Good article Su Song has been listed as one of the History good articles under the good article criteria. If you can improve it further, please do so. If it no longer meets these criteria, you can reassess it.
Article milestones
Date Process Result
April 27, 2007 Good article nominee Listed
February 1, 2010 Good article reassessment Kept
Current status: Good article


I'm very sorry, but Su Songs clock had no real escapement. Look: Duchesne, Ricardo (2006) Asia First? The Journal of The Historical Society 6 (1), page 76-79. -- 20:39, 10 December 2006 (UTC)

Are You Kidding Me?[edit]

I've read Ricardo's article a while back (which is rather good), and I do not recall any mentioning of how Su Song's astronomical clock tower lacked an escapement mechanism (I do however remember his long dissertation on wet and dry compasses). In fact, if he did propose the tower lacked an escapement mechanism, he would be gravely mistaken, proposing an incredibly outdated belief and misunderstanding of Chinese history (refer to Jesuits of the 16th century in China). In a more recent work than 500-year-old Jesuit speculation on Chinese clockworks, Joseph Needham of the 20th century provides a more accurate and updated view of pre-Ming era clockwork, including use of the escapement mechanism in Su Song's clock-tower.

Taken from Joseph's Science and Civilization in China: Volume 4, Part II...

(Su Song's) clockwork, driven by a water-wheel, and fully enclosed within the tower, rotated an observational armillary sphere on the top platform and a celestial globe in the upper story. Its time-announcing function was further fulfilled visually and audibly by the performances of numerous jacks mounted on the eight superimposed wheels of a time-keeping shaft and appearing at windows in the pagoda-like structure at the front of the tower. Within the building, some 40 ft. high, the driving-wheel was provided with a special form of escapement, and the water was pumped back into the tanks periodically by manual means. The time-annunciator must have included conversion gearing, since it gave 'unequal' as well as equal time signals, and the sphere probably had this. Su Sung's treatise on the clock, the Hsin I Hsiang Fa Yao, constitutes a classic of horological engineering (Needham, 449).

That was figure Fig. 650, while Fig. 656 displays the upper and lower norias with their tanks and the manual wheel for operating them.

Fig. 657 displays the a more miniature and scaled-down pic for the basics of the escapement mechanism in an illustration (from Su's book), with Needham's caption here in this quote: "The 'celestial balance' (thien heng) or escapement mechanism of Su Sung's clockwork (Hsin I Hsiang Fa Yao, ch. 3, p. 18b)," (Needham, 458). The latter figure carefully labels (letter order arrangement being my own input):

A) a right upper lock B) upper link C) left upper lock D) axle or pivot E) long chain F) upper counterweight G) sump H) checking fork of the lower balancing lever I) coupling tongue J) main (ie. lower) counterweight (Needham, 458).

Figure 658. displays a more intricate and most-telling half-page scale drawing of Su Song's large escapement mechanism, labeling these individual parts as they interact with one another (in numeric order):

1. arrested spoke (fu) 2. left upper lock (tso thien so) 3. scoop (shou shui hu) being filled by 4. water jet from constant-level tank 5. small counterweight 6. checking fork (ko chha) tripped by a projection pin on the scoop, and forming the near end of 7. the lower balancing lever (shu heng) with 8. its lower counterweight (shu chhuan) 9. coupling tongue (kuan she), connected by 10. the long chain (thien thiao) with 11. the upper balancing lever (thien heng), which has at its far end 12. the upper counterweight (thien kuan), and at its near end 13. a short length chain (thien kuan) connecting it with the upper lock beneath it; 14. right upper lock (yu thien so) considered as the left in our analysis. (Needham, 460)

There is plenty of info on this from Needham's work if you want me to show more.

I rest my case for now.

--PericlesofAthens 03:30, 22 March 2007 (UTC)

Stub Status[edit]

I have greatly expanded this article, and I do not consider it a stub any longer. I would like to get feedback from others, but for now I have removed it from stub status.

--PericlesofAthens 05:32, 22 March 2007 (UTC)

Failed GA[edit]

Let me get this straight. The only references for this article are from Needham? --Ideogram 10:15, 21 April 2007 (UTC)

Ok, I have provided 6 more sources besides Needham. Is this now sufficient, Ideogram?--PericlesofAthens 18:42, 21 April 2007 (UTC)
It would be better if you had more than one cite to each of the other sources, but I have no other objection. But I will let another reviewer decide whether to pass it or not; generally I only review articles that have an obvious deficiency. --Ideogram 21:20, 21 April 2007 (UTC)
Yeah, I know; while Needham holds the majority of citations, Fry has about 4 or 5, Wright has 2, Bodde has 2, and the rest have just 1. It's a start though.--PericlesofAthens 21:45, 21 April 2007 (UTC)

GA Nomination[edit]

GA review (see here for criteria)
  1. It is reasonably well written.
    a (prose): b (MoS):
  2. It is factually accurate and verifiable.
    a (references): b (citations to reliable sources): c (OR):
  3. It is broad in its coverage.
    a (major aspects): b (focused):
  4. It follows the neutral point of view policy.
    a (fair representation): b (all significant views):
  5. It is stable.
  6. It contains images, where possible, to illustrate the topic.
    a (tagged and captioned): b lack of images (does not in itself exclude GA): c (non-free images have fair use rationales):
  7. Overall:
    a Pass/Fail:


I have a few minor complaints about the article. Here are my suggestions in getting it to GA status. It is on hold for the moment

  • The Needham references need the title of the volume. Simply saying its volume 3 or 4 is not enough.

There are several problems with the prose in a few sections.

  • This sentance is awkward and should be rewritten: Of interest to note is Su Song accrediting the predecessor of his clock to the hydraulic-powered armillary sphere of the Han era Chinese scientist Zhang Heng (78-139 AD).
  • You are mixing Wade-Giles and Pinyin romanization. The majority of the article is in Pinyin, but you must convert the Wade-Giles into Pinyin before the article is passed. If you need assistance in this regard please let me know, as I can help convert the stuff.Zeus1234

There is also excessive use of parenthesis that can be better replaced with simple prose. Some of that is used to spam romanised Chinese names of terms. Earlier I already went ahead and cleaned up the intro and the "Life and works" section. Hong Qi Gong (Talk - Contribs) 03:12, 26 April 2007 (UTC)

Good point Hong. If converting everything to Pinyin seems too onerous, you might consider simply deleting a lot of the translations. They aren't really nescessary to the article anyway.Zeus1234 03:32, 26 April 2007 (UTC)
Update: I indicated the names of the Needham volumes in full, reworded the awkward sentence about Zhang Heng, got rid of many parenthesis in favor of additional written prose, and got rid of any unneccessary Wade-giles spelling, except for Wade-giles spelling found in direct quotes from Needham's books, which should not be reworded. If there are any more concerns, please let me know and I will try my best to address them. Thanks for reviewing the article! --PericlesofAthens 03:46, 27 April 2007 (UTC)
I got rid of most of the techinical Chinese terms that were used. I feel these make the article confusing firstly because they are in Wade-Giles (unlike the rest of the article), and because they do not add anything to the article.Zeus1234 06:12, 27 April 2007 (UTC)

GA Sweeps[edit]

This article has been reviewed as part of Wikipedia:WikiProject Good articles/Project quality task force. I believe the article currently meets the criteria and should remain listed as a Good article. The article history has been updated to reflect this review. Lampman (talk) 19:22, 1 February 2010 (UTC)