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Chinese failure to discover glass.

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  Quote Maddison Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Chinese failure to discover glass.
    Posted: 27-May-2014 at 18:21
Given that Chinese technology fell behind that of western europe in the post medieval age what part did the chinese failure to discover glass play in that decline. 
Glass can be used for 
Telescopes
spectacles
magnifying glasses
microscopes
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  Quote red clay Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28-May-2014 at 10:27
Considering the Chinese had mastered the science of Ceramic Glaze Tech, what makes you think they didn't know about glass?
A glaze is glass.  The raw materials are mixed and applied to the surface of a ceramic item, and then fired to melt out temp. 
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  Quote Mountain Man Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28-May-2014 at 10:56
True, but it's not "glass" in the sense refered to.  The Chinese do not appear to have progressed to the science of optics, which does seem a little odd given their scientific curiousity and prowess.
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  Quote red clay Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28-May-2014 at 11:12
Originally posted by Mountain Man

True, but it's not "glass" in the sense refered to.  The Chinese do not appear to have progressed to the science of optics, which does seem a little odd given their scientific curiousity and prowess.
 
Not advancing to "optics" is a broad jump from not knowing about glass.
 
Considering they knew how to make glass,[they even knew how to color it] it is odd that they did not advance to optics.  Leaves one wondering are we sure that they didn't.
 
 
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  Quote Maddison Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28-May-2014 at 13:11
The evidence of a wide use of optics in China from the late medieval to the nineteenth century just doesn't seem to exist. What telescopes, spectacles and magnifying gasses of Chinese origin have been found.  In the west the use of lenses and optics furthered scientific progress, that same level of progress seems to be absent in China. Clearly social and political considerations have to be taken into account when investigating this, but the scarcity of optics must have seriously hampered scientific progress.  
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  Quote TheAlaniDragonRising Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28-May-2014 at 21:08
If we are to consider what Marco Polo said, in 1270, about elderly Chinese wearing spectacles, then optics were around. As for glass, the Mesopotamians and Egyptians were early in their glass production, but the Chinese were making lead-barium glass by 221 BC. 
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  Quote Maddison Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29-May-2014 at 15:15
Although there have been claims that Salvino degli Armati of Florence invented eyeglasses, these claims have been exposed as hoaxes.[15][16] Furthermore, although there have been claims that Marco Polo encountered eyeglasses during his travels in China in the 13th century, no such statement appears in his accounts.[17][18] Indeed, the earliest mentions of eyeglasses in China occur in the 15th century and those Chinese sources state that eyeglasses were imported.

From wikipedia.
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  Quote TheAlaniDragonRising Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29-May-2014 at 18:11
On second thoughts, Maddison, it is hard to distinguish where the claims that Marco Polo found specticles in China on his visit, so I must bow to the font of knowledge that is Wikipedia. However it cannot be said that the premise of this thread, the discussion on no Chinese glass in china by the time period can be justified either.
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  Quote Mountain Man Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29-May-2014 at 20:01
Actually, all we "know" is that Marco Polo claimed to have seen Chinese wearing spectacles.  This proves nothing in regards to the origin of those spectacles, if they even existed in the first place.

After all, Marco wasn't the only European visiting the Chinese during all that time.
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  Quote red clay Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30-May-2014 at 11:03
Since glass has been made since around 2,000 bce,  I find it hard to believe the Chinese didn't know of it.  However, making the jump from glass to optics is another matter. 
 
The earliest known lenses were made from ground and polished quartz crystal.  The first mention of glass lenses seems to be from around 500 AD.
 
 
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  Quote Sarkir Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02-Jun-2015 at 20:52
Europeans didn't discover glass. It was discovered by middle easterners and then passed onto Europe.

Europeans can't take credit for it they took it from other people.

The Middle east is farther from China than Europe so glass obviously did not spread there easily.
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  Quote J.A.W. Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Jun-2015 at 01:48
The Romans developed glass as an everyday consumer item for tableware & windows..
Strangely they didn't develop artificial lenses, since they did do cataract operations to remove
cloudy natural lenses from human eyes.. so they were aware of their function in eyesight..

I recall hearing that centuries of fine china production meant that glass production was not
regarded as needful in China, & that then cruelled scientific advancements, both due to age related
eyesight defects not being corrected by specs & by chemically inert glass vessels not being in use..
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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16-Mar-2016 at 02:46

Marco Polo did not mention reading glasses in China.  What he mentioned were something like sunglasses, to obscure the eyes of the judges, and they were not reading aids.

The Chinese did know about glass, and were able to make some, but not the crystal clear glass required for making lenses.  Glass making was one skill that the Chinese seriously lagged behind the west, and glass making was never very important to them.  The inability to make clear glass would have hampered their ability to make telescopes, microscopes, and reading glasses.  Naturally clear crystals like quartz would be more expensive and harder to shape, discouraging experimentation in the field. 
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  Quote medenaywe Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16-Mar-2016 at 03:18
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  Quote medenaywe Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16-Mar-2016 at 03:25
...and Nimrud lens:
NOTE: If they were obsessed by space lens were invented than!What did precision they have?
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  Quote J.A.W. Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16-Mar-2016 at 04:21
Not to ignore the practical use of glass - for vessels in alcohol production/chemical research industries,
Also as weatherproof windows in cold climates, & for transparent protective covers of delicate mechanisms..
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  Quote Centrix Vigilis Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16-Mar-2016 at 11:47
signaling device in the high, lonely, lonesome and a fire starter if it really is glass.

And the sun is out.

Wonder how long man has been doing that Chinese or other.

Edited by Centrix Vigilis - 16-Mar-2016 at 11:48
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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19-Mar-2016 at 17:14
The playwright Aristophanes mentioned using stones (burning lenses) in his 5th century BC play the Clouds, and from the way he mentioned it, it sounds like it was an established method even then. The Nimrud lens dates from the 7th century BC, and one of the speculated uses for the lens was for starting fire.

When men first started digging up and using clear crystal for jewelry and other uses is when they probably first noticed the magnifying and fire starting properties, which were probably discovered by accident.

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  Quote Centrix Vigilis Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19-Mar-2016 at 18:36
Originally posted by Historian

The playwright Aristophanes mentioned using stones (burning lenses) in his 5th century BC play the Clouds, and from the way he mentioned it, it sounds like it was an established method even then. The Nimrud lens dates from the 7th century BC, and one of the speculated uses for the lens was for starting fire.

When men first started digging up and using clear crystal for jewelry and other uses is when they probably first noticed the magnifying and fire starting properties, which were probably discovered by accident.



Fair enough and informative. What I like to see. Your latter para intriguing as I don't recall any data on glass making prior to 3500 BC. Tho... Pliny reports the Phoenicians allegedly discovered it ie. the process... circa 5000 BC; on the Syrian coast.

The caveat of course being that naturally occurring glass was in use much earlier. Eg. Stone age cultures using obsidianites

Here's a good little generic reference:

https://web.archive.org/web/20110415194738/http://www.glassonline.com/infoserv/history.html#5000 BC

Many more detailed can be found thru a search.

Welcome to the fray.


Edited by Centrix Vigilis - 19-Mar-2016 at 18:37
"Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence"

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Pilger's law: 'If it's been officially denied, then it's probably true'

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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19-Mar-2016 at 21:50
By "crystal" I meant natural rock crystal (quartz) and natural glass.

Although the Romans could make clear glass, I am not certain they could make "crystal clear" glass, clear enough to make lenses.
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