Friday’s answers

Teletext gets my thanks for posing the questions and can claim a virtual batch of citrus slice for stumping us all be leaving the answers below.

One Response to Friday’s answers

  1. Teletext says:

    Gravedodger left a very pertinent comment after obviously researching the subject on Wikipedia and I agree that this is a very interesting character of the 20th century. I look forward to the virtual citrus slices.

    1. Who was Noel Joseph Terence Montgomery Needham?
    He was an English scientist and Cambridge fellow who was regarded as an eccentric socialist and was responsible for recording most of China’s as then unknown scientific discoveries. He was also a naturalist.

    2. His parents called him by different names and he himself chose a third by which he called himself. What names did his parents call him and what name did he call himself?
    His father called him Noel and his mother Terence and he called himself and was universally known as Joseph.

    3. What was his field of expertise?
    He was a biologist, married for over 60 years to a famous biochemist.

    4. He wrote a book, the first volume was published in 1954 and had swollen to 18 volumes by the time he died in 1995. What was the name of this body of work which is universally acknowledged to be the greatest work of explanation of the Middle Kingdom that has yet been created in western history?
    Science and Civilization in China. In scientific circles it is regarded as a masterpiece.

    5. What is believed to have caused his interest in this country?
    In 1938 3 Chinese scientists arrived in England to study under Needham. One, Shen Shizhang went on to become a professor of Zoology at Yale, the second, Wang Yinglai won fame by being the first to create insulin and the third Lu Gwei-djen, also a biochemist became Needham’s mistress. This relationship, apparently with the approval of Needham’s wife, drove Needham to immerse himself in all things Chinese by becoming fluent in Mandarin and eventually being sent by the British government in 1943 to China to try and save China’s many universities that weren’t under Japanese control at that time. This is how he learned so much of the Chinese scientific discoveries.

    There is an excellent book on Needham by the wonderful researcher and author Simon Winchester called Bomb, Book and Compass. The intro to the book goes:
    The 17th century philosopher-statesman Francis Bacon famously declared that nothing had changed the world more profoundly than three great discoveries: printing, gunpowder and the compass. What he didn’t know was that all three had already been conceived of and successfully employed by a single people, living on the far side of the globe, long before the west ever “invented” them.
    It is believed that gunpowder as a bomb in warfare was first used in China during Marco Polo’s time there.


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