Su Song

Mike F, Joseph C, Katelyn B

Su Song, a chinese inventor, born in 1020 C.E., in modern day Fujian, just outside Quanzhou lived 81 full years before dying in 1101 C.E. Su Song was a man of may interest, and he built two of the most advanced instruments of its day.

Su Song's Achievements

Su Song was an eminent Chinese cartographer, which means he made maps, a zoologist who studied animals, a
Su Song's Star Map
pharmacologist who studied medicine, an astronomer who studied stars, a mineralogist who studied rocks and minerals, an engineer and an adept herbalist. He was a brilliant student all through his academic career who rose to great heights, and many honorable titles were bestowed upon him becuase he possesed great knowledge in various subjects and he had in-depth knowledge about cartography. One of these honorable titles bestowed upon him was being appointed as the ambassador in the Song Dynasty. Later on, he moved up and became the statesman of the Song Dynasty. Being the statesman fo the Song Dynasty allowed him to be in charge of supervising the administrative and finance department of the Song Dynasty. Su Song's in-depth knowledge about cartography helped him create the celestial atlas. The celestial atlas was a great work of precision. The atlas's had unique characteristic was that it was laid out in printed form. He then created numerous terrestrial maps as well. Lastly, Su Song also composed one of the leading horological writings of the medieval times. This work dealt with a number of pharmaceutical applications.

The Water Clock and the Armillary Sphere

Even though Su Song was a genious in numerous subjects, he was mostly well known of his two inventions the mechanical wat
Su Song's Mechanical Water Clock
Su Song's Mechanical Water Clock
er clock and the armillary sphere
. Su Song built the water clock in 1088 in Kaifeng. It took him about 12 years to build this advanced astronomical clock. The water clock was powered by water and hydraulics, therfore it was not fully mechanical. Su Song led a team a mathmaticians ant artisans in building the water clock. It was a precise apparatus used for astronomical observation and time keeping. The clock's structure was so complex that know one could make a replica of it. It consisted of three main levels. The upper lever contained the armillary sphere. This represented "The Great Circles of the Heavens" which allowed astrologers to make accurate astonomical observations. On the middle level, there was his celestial globe that diplayed the movements of the celestial bodies. Finally, the bottom level had wooden mannequins which struck the time of day. The whole tower itself formed a single mechanism that was turned by water power, without any human effort. Finally, his mechcanical water clock's precision could be compared to a sundial.
Su Song's Armillary Sphere

Su Song's other famous invention was the armillary sphere. The armillary sphere was the first to be provided with a mechanical clock drive. The armillary sphere was used as an instrument to measure the position of celestal bodies. Su Song also used the armillary sphere in aiding calendrical computations and calculations. The original sphere weighed 15 tons and was 4.11 meters. Today there are two major parts of the sphere. The first part is the heart of the Armillary sphere which is the sphere itself, and was often made and used alone. The second part is the central body in the sphere which represents the Earth, and was considered the center of the Universe. The band going around the sphere, at an angle to the equator, represents the zodiac. Overall, Su Song's armillary sphere is well-known in the world of science for its accurate observations and elegant design.

Su Song's Armillary Sphere
Su Song's Armillary Sphere


  1. This source has information about Su Song's water clock.
  2. This source also has information about the water clock and it tells you the set up as well
  5. this site has info about su song's life/achievements/talents- Katelyn