Shen Kuo was an astronomer, geologist, zoologist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, diplomat, and finance minister. He lived during the Song Dynasty in China (960–1127).
A very strange story could be seen within his writings which cover a lot of scientific topics. Kuo appears to have described an unidentified flying object.
Professor Zhang Longqiao of the Chinese department of Peking Teachers College discovered in the 1970s a passage in Shen’s book “Mengxi bitan” (“Brush Talks From Dream Brook,” also known as “Dream Pool Essays”) describing the pearl-like UFOs. Shen is as credible a source as one could ask for in 11th to 12th century China. He is considered well-respected contributor to the progress of science in the region.
Here is the translation of the controversial passage:
“In the years of Emporer Jiayou (1056-1064), a UFO as bright as a pearl often made its appearance over the prospering city of Yangzhou of Jiangsu Province, particularly at night. At first the object was seen on a lake in Tienzhang County in eastern Anhui and later on the Pishe Lake northwest of Gaoyou County in Jiangsu. Subsequently it was often seen by the local inhabitants near the Xingkai Lake.
“One night, a man living by the lakeside found a shining pearl close by while studying outdoors. The object opened its door and a flood of intense light like sunbeams darted out of it, then the outer shell opened up, appearing as large as a bed with a big pearl the size of a fist illuminating the interior in silvery white. The intense silver-white light, shot from the interior, was too strong for human eyes to behold; it cast shadows of every tree within a radius of ten miles.
“The spectacle was like the rising sun, lighting up the distant sky and woods in red. Then all of a sudden, the object took off at a tremendous speed and descended upon the lake like the sun setting.
“Yibo, a poet of Gaoyou and a frequent eyewitness of the moonlike pearl, wrote a poem about it, but after some years the moonlike pearl disappeared.
“As the pearl often made its appearance in the town of Fanliang in Yangzhou, the local inhabitants, who had seen it frequently, built a wayside pavilion and named it ‘The Pearl Pavilion.’ Inquisitive people often came from afar by boat, waiting for a chance to see the unpredictable pearl.”
This description appears to be too thorough to be based on hallucinations or religious visions. According to Zhang, there is no possibility that the light came from bioluminescent creatures, as well.
Other scientific observations are also included in the book of Shen Kuo. For example, he provided the first description of a magnetic compass’ workings, he analysed fossils, he argued against the theory that the tides are connected to the sun and identified a correlation with moon cycles, and he hypothesized that the sun and moon are spherical rather than flat.