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18

One possible term for the situation you described is technological lock in. This is more commonly associated with the development of sustainable energy (vs cheap oil), so it is probably not the specific name you were looking for. It does however refer to a similar situation where non-optimal (for a given definition thereof) technology becomes dominant, and ...


17

In Europe, armies were often of generally the same size and makeup (at least in the instances you mention) and tactics codified, so in open engagements equipment and (that being equal) minor differences in proficiency could well mean the difference between winning and losing a battle. In the Chinese example you mention, sheer force of numbers caused Qing to ...


15

In Dutch this is known as wet van de remmende voorsprong, which has been translated to Law of the handicap of a head start on Wikipedia. The page has a few examples similar to yours. That a page with such an awful name exists plus the number of discussions I find about how to translate the Dutch phrase makes me think that there is no exact name for this ...


12

See Joseph Needham's momumental work : Science and Civilisation in China: Volume 3, Mathematics and the Sciences of the Heavens and the Earth, Cambridge UP (1959), page 212-213: "Rather characteristically Chinese, however, was the insistence that the heavens were circular and that the earth was square, an idea which would arise naturally enough from the ...


11

I've searched the web, and as far as I can see, Heron designed the first steam engine, Savery, a British military engineer received the first patent, Newcoman created it, and Watt improved it. There is nothing about China on the web. (except for the conspiracy websites) Based on the lack of information, I'd say that China didn't invent it. (I'm going to do ...


10

There is an overview in an article on China Whisper.com: China`s historical GDP share in the world Han dynasty (206 BC–220 AD) GDP per capita: $450, 26% Tang Dynasty 618 – 907 AD GDP per capita:$480, 58% of world GDP Song Dynasty 960-1279 AD GDP per capita:US$2,280, 80% of the world’s GDP Yuan Dynasty 1271-1368 A estimated to account for about 30% -...


8

One theory I have read—I believe Jared Diamond—is that Europe's diversity and fragmented nature spurred innovation, while the united China was much easier to control. To explain that: China produced more Iron, better ships etc. than similarly situated European nations in the early 1600s but when the empire's bureaucracy feared the growing power of the ...


7

This is also the subject of the Needham question. My own sense is that China's best and brightest were long motivated to target administrative careers as their first choice. The famous imperial civil service examinations required candidates to compete in the interpreting the classics, not preparing for new innovations (or "engines", for that matter). ...


7

Although the wikipedia article notes that a major cause of the rebellion was an agrarian crisis, note that famine is often caused due to factors other than agricultural production alone. Often bad distribution, heavy taxes and low market prices for agricultural produce cause famine. While it may look like agricultural technology was in its infancy then, ...


6

First of all this was not always the case in history. In the period approximately 400-1500, European populations were not more technologically advanced than some populations in Asia. And even before that, most of Europe, except a narrow strip near the Mediterranean was in quite primitive state with respect to science and technology. And the main place where ...


6

Well, at least the drop during the "Cultural Revolution" is easily explained. Setting hordes of young, largely semi-literate, thugs to torture and maim the productive and educated members of society will do wonders for the economy. Here is a long quote from wikipedia: The ten years of the Cultural Revolution brought China's education system to a virtual ...


5

At best, positive answers to the question you posed can only establish a correlation, not a causation. After all, a less developed country can't really properly utilize a lot of engines. Say as a thought experiment you gave an illiterate 15th century European farmer a diesel engine, but no infrastructure to support it. He wouldn't even know how to use it. ...


4

Although it doesn't state whether a heliocentric model was proposed, I'd imagine some Chinese scholars entertained the possibility. Foremost, they had to overcome the accepted beliefs of their time, such as whether the Earth was flat and there could be spherical celestial bodies in the heavens. Yu Xi seems to be one of the closest astronomers of Ancient ...


4

I am not sure about 1600, but there is a famous book on astronomy called Zhou bi suan jing, which is usually translated as "The Arithmetic Classic of the Gnomon and the Circular Paths of Heaven". It is not known when precisely it was written, but it was commented by Chinese authors in 3d, 6th and 7th century AD. The book is full of problems like this: ...


3

First, you can put aside the "Well the Europeans were just cleverer", as even a cursory glance at world history will show inventions and developments from all societies at one time or another, from the Incan to the Chinese. What I think could likely be the main trouble the Chinese had with technology is that the scale of the Chinese nation was so large. In ...


3

China just did not develop higher mathematics. Neither integral not differential calculus and even too little of algebra. Integral calculus is one of the prerequisites to creating efficient engines. Also mechanic theory is needed for creating reliable and efficient mechanisms, and also impossible without higher mathematics.


2

I remember being told that the development of glass making was one of the key technological breakthroughs that enabled the Enlightenment in Europe. Originally used for making vessels and windows, it allowed optics such as telescopes, magnifiers, microscopes, etc to be made. Once these had been invented sciences such as astronomy, chemistry and biology could ...


1

Yes, some believed in a Round Earth, but we don't know if they tried to measure it. I'm going to start from the basis of the Round Earth concept; Hellenistic Astronomy was based upon Babylonian astronomy (which was more than likely taken from Sumerian astronomy, the earliest civilization, so far as we know). Greek astronomers like Pythagoras, Aristotle, and ...


1

I am not saying it is the only thing but the difficulty of becoming literate may have prevented the development of more than one potential Chinese innovator who was born into a family that could not afford education. I think of Faraday who had humble beginnings and he was not the only one. Importantly, who knows what would happened to Western science without ...


1

The ChinaWhisper article doesn't seem to give sources, and its numbers are implausible, particularly having per capita GDP be several times bigger under the Song dynasty than before or after. A big compilation of historical population and GDP estimates was done by the late economist Angus Maddison, who among other things wrote extensively on China's ...


1

What is China has changed over time, as have the number of people in China, as has China's level of per capita output (GDP prior to capitalism is an anachronistic imposition if measured in a current value expression), as has the number of people not-in-China, as have the level of per capita output in places not-China. The assumption that China's proportion ...


1

Around 1671CE two turbine steam engined devices were presented by the Jesuit Friar Min-Ming Wo to for the Khang-Hsi emperor. Joseph Needham and Wang Ling. Mechanical Engineering. In Science and Civilisation in China Vol 4 (Physics and Physical Technology) Book 2. CUP 1965: p225ff.


1

You may be thinking of the Ancient Discoveries series. The episode on the steam engine had a mention of China, but on a different topic. Steam engines, due to the heat and pressure of steam, require strong metal fittings which was technology not available anywhere in the far east until the 19th century. The rotating ball of Heron I would consider to be a ...


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