More than 1,000 international science historians convened in Beijing on Saturday to discuss the development of science and technology and their interactions with globalization and diversity.
Lu Yongxiang, vice chairman of China's National People's Congress Standing Committee and president of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said that Albert Einstein's Theory of Relativity is an example of one man having made a great impact on the scientific community and the world as a whole.
Describing the significance of researching the history of science, Lu referred to Zheng He, the Ming dynasty general who led a mammoth fleet across the Indian Ocean on voyages of discovery 600 hundreds ago.
"The first marine exploration by the Chinese did not necessarily mean scientific revolution would occur first in China," Lu said, explaining that China lagged far behind Western powers in science and technology, a point that was clearly explained by well-known British science historian Dr. Joseph Needham.
This congress is the first of its kind in China since the establishment of the International Union of History and Philosophy of Science's Division of History of Science in 1929. Only five countries outside of Europe have hosted the event.
Liu Dun, vice executive president of the International Union of History and Philosophy of Science's Division of History of Science, said: "Science is regarded as having originated in the West. The non-Western origins of science are always ignored."
Liu, who also heads the CAS Institute of History of Natural Science said he hopes those non-Western features of science history will be highlighted at the congress, particularly when the congress looks at "Globalization and Diversity: Diffusion of Science and Technology Throughout History".
Some plenary lectures will show such diversity, including "Transmission of Islamic Exact Science to India and its Neighbors and Repercussions Thereof" by Razaullah Ansari of India; "Moral and Political Significance of Nature in Ancient China" by Sun Xiaochun of China; and "The Development of the Number System in Mathematics in Ancient Iraq" by Khalid Salim Ismael of Iraq.
The seven-day congress covers 36 scientific categories and comprises work meetings, 62 symposia and two public lectures.
(Xinhua News Agency July 25, 2005)