Mar 2016, Volume 11 Issue 1

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    Michela CIGOLA,Yibing FANG

    This study aims to investigate the role played by Xu Guangqi (1562–1633), minister of the Ming Dynasty, in the development of European scientific and technical knowledge in China between the 16th and 17th centuries by analyzing a book of Western technology that he wrote, namely, Taixi Shuifa (On Western Hydraulics). Several Western books related to machine knowledge are searched to trace the source of the illustrations in Taixi Shuifa. We found that Archimedes’ screw and Ctesibius’ machine, which are included in Vitruvius’ De Architectura volumes, also appear in the work of Xu Guangqi.

    Cesare ROSSI,Thomas G. CHONDROS,Kypros F. MILIDONIS,Sergio SAVINO,Flavio RUSSO

    The development of transportation systems has significantly enhanced the welfare and modernization of society. Wooden vehicles pulled by animals have been used for land transportation since the early Bronze Age. Whole-body gharries with rigid wheels pulled by oxen appeared in Crete by 2000 BC or earlier. Horses originating from the East were depicted in early Cretan seal-rings of the same period. The two-wheeled horse-drawn chariot was one of the most important inventions in history. This vehicle provided humanity its first concept of personal transport and was the key technology of war for 2000 years. Chariots of Mycenaean and Archaic Greece with light and flexible four-spoked wheels acting as spring suspensions were depicted in vase paintings. The development of this vehicle incorporated the seeds of a primitive design activity and was important for engineering. The Trojan horse since 1194 BC and the helepolis since 700 BC were the first known machines on a wheeled base transported by horses or self-powered. Ancient engineers invented bearings lubricated with fat, and Romans introduced the ancestors of ball bearings for their wagons and carts. The historic evolution of wheeled transportation systems, along with early traction, suspension, and braking systems, is presented in this paper. Analytical and numerical methods are incorporated to analyze the most conceivable loading situations of typically reconstructed wheeled transportation systems in ancient times. Traction requirements both for horse-driven machines and the power for internal motors are also analyzed. This study can serve as a basis for further development of detailed reconstruction of transportation systems in antiquity.

    Hidetaka KUROKI

    After Archimedes and Vitruvius era, for more than 2000 years, it has been believed that the displaced water measurement of golden crown is impossible, and at his Eureka moment, Archimedes discovered the law of buoyancy (Proposition 7 of his principles) and proved the theft of a goldsmith by weighing the golden crown in water.

    A previous study showed that a small amount of displaced water was able to be measured with enough accuracy by the introduced method. Archimedes measured the weight of displaced water. He did not find the law of buoyancy but rather specific gravity of things at the moment.

    After which, Archimedes continued to measure the specific gravity of various solids and fluids. Through these measurements, he reached the discovery of the law of buoyancy directly by experiment. In this paper, the process to the discovery of Archimedes’ principle (Proposition 5) is presented.

    Lie SUN,Ang LI

    The development of rolling-element bearings in China has spanned a long period. Based on several typical and important cases, the present article reconstructs the history of rolling-element bearings in China by dividing it into four stages according to the various characteristics of the bearings. The first stage represents the origin of rolling bearings in China, which remains controversial because of several suspected races and cages that were likely the components of bearings more than a millennium ago. At the second stage, a type of simple roller bearing was used for astronomical instruments not later than the 13th century based on clear philological and physical evidence. A similar bearing was also applied to an abridged armillary in the 17th century. Another type of spherical thrust bearings with rolling elements, which is a key component of a traditional Chinese windmill, could support a rotating shaft that moves rotationally and at an angle. At the third stage, the Chinese began studying and using the so-called European-style bearing since the 17th century. Moreover, over the last 100 years, the modern rolling bearing industry was gradually established in China, particularly because of the technology transfer from the Soviet Union in the 1950s. At the fourth stage, the Chinese government initiated the relatively rapid development of bearing technology. The government launched the “bearing movement” from the 1950s to the 1960s to establish the modern bearing industry and to promote rolling bearings as replacement for traditional sliding bearings. Furthermore, a number of large professional factories and institutions in China have continually introduced advanced technology and equipment. At present, these companies and institutions play a significant role in the international bearing industry.

    Dmitry BABICHEV,Sergey LAGUTIN,Natalya BARMINA

    During the second half of the twentieth century, Soviet scientists were among the world leaders in the theory and geometry of gearing or the theoretical fundamentals of designing gears and gear-cutting tools. The authors of the current paper review works related to the development of the theory of gearing (TG) written in Russian from the mid-1930s to the present. Overall, the review covers more than 400 publications of nearly 200 authors (among more than 1000 studied works). This review involves some works on gear strength and accuracy to attract more experts.

    This paper presents a short list of works from the seventeenth century to the nineteenth century and discusses the basic concepts of the TG. This paper also includes a review of more than 160 papers in Russian for the period of 1935–1975, which is the “golden age” of the TG. The main features and achievements during this period are also considered.

    The distinctive feature of this review is the use of diagrams that visually present TG experts and the dates and themes of their published works. The diagrams also show the following aspects: 1) The most popular and important themes in a specific period, 2) the most important publications on the themes of interest to readers, and 3) the direction of the works and scope of interests of every researcher.

    Mikhail MALENKOV

    This report reviews the most important episodes in the history of designing the self-propelled automatic chassis of the first mobile extraterrestrial vehicle in the world, Lunokhod-1. The review considers the issues in designing moon rovers, their essential features, and the particular construction properties of their systems, mechanisms, units, and assemblies. It presents the results of exploiting the chassis of Lunokhod-1 and Lunokhod-2. Analysis of the approaches utilized and engineering solutions reveals their value as well as the consequences of certain defects.


    The paper contributes to the development of applied mechanics by establishing a new discipline, namely, agricultural mechanics by academician Vasilii Prohorovich Goryachkin (1868–1935) who was an apprentice of Nikolay Yegorovich Zhukovsky and a graduate of the Moscow University (current known as Moscow State University) and the Imperial Higher Technical School.

    Alexander BELYAEV,Alexander SUKHANOV,Alexander TSVETKOV

    This article addresses the problem in which a chain falls from a glass from some height. This phenomenon demonstrates a paradoxical rise of the chain over the glass. To explain this effect, an initial hypothesis and an appropriate theory are proposed for calculating the steady fall parameters of the chain. For this purpose, the modified Сayley ’s problem of falling chain given its rise due to the centrifugal force of upward inertia is solved. Results show that the lift caused by an increase in linear density at the part of chain where it is being bent (the upper part) is due to the convergence of the chain balls to one another. The experiments confirm the obtained estimates of the lifting chain.

    Vladimir A. GODLEVSKIY

    The main stages of technological lubricating material development from ancient times to date are described. How the chemical composition of these products changed with time, how new ideas revealing the physical and chemical basics of external media that influence the mechanical processing of materials appeared, how these ideas explained the differences between traditional tribology and specific technology of metal processing are discussed. The question of the possible realization of Rehbinder’s adsorption effect in contact zone is also stated. The description of a very captivating problem is related to the explanation of the mechanism of lubricant penetration into the contact zone between the material being processed and the tool. The birth and development of the hypothesis of microcapillary penetration of the lubricant into the dynamically changed intersurface clearance that has finally led to formulating the “necessary kinetic condition of the lubricating activity” is relayed.


    The paper presents innovative informatics methods for creating virtual technical heritage replicas, which are of significant scientific and practical importance not only to researchers but to the public in general. By performing 3D modeling and animation of aircrafts, spaceships, architectural-engineering buildings, and other technical objects, the process of learning is achieved while promoting the preservation of the replicas for future generations. Modern approaches based on the wide usage of computer technologies attract a greater number of young people to explore the history of science and technology and renew their interest in the field of mechanical engineering.