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Shen Kua was born in China in the year 1026 Shen Kua was born to Shen Chou and his wife Hsa His family had an unbroken tradition of being civil servants Thus his father was a local administrator of many posts from Szechwan in the west to the international port of Amoy At Sixteen years old Shen Kua left his home to travel with his father from post to post While traveling with his father Shen Kua learned the responsibilities of a local administrator These responsibilities include a broad range of technical and managerial problems in public works finance improvement of agriculture and maintenance of waterwaysIn 1051 his father died and after a two year mourning period Shen Kua received his first appointment as a local administrator at the age of twenty two Soon after his appointment he showed his skill in ability to plan by designing and overseeing a drainage and embankment system that reclaimed some hundred thousand acres of swampland for agriculture A few years later he passed the national examinations and was assigned a post in Yangchow While in Yangchow he impressed the Governor Chang Chu so much that he recommended that Shen be appointed to the department of Financial Administration It was about this time that he began to study astronomy His first works as an astronomer came when he set down clear explanations concerning the sphericity of the sun and the moon as proved by lunar phases of eclipse limits and the retrogradation of the lunar nodes These explanations gave the ability to visualize motions in space Which in the past was only best implicit in numerical procedures of traditional astronomy and seldomly discussed in technical writing Because of this work Shen was given an additional appointed as director of the Astronomical Bureau His first project as director was a major calendar reform This reform started with a series of daily observations of the stars that lasted over five years
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