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Ancient Chinese Inventions

Buzzle Staff
If we have a close look at the pages of history, we will realize that there were numerous ancient Chinese inventions that ranged from mathematics and engineering to agriculture and industry. All these inventions have contributed to the betterment of the human race.
China has had a very active part to play in technology reaching where it is today. For over a thousand years, the ancient Chinese people were regarded to be quite a sophisticated civilization, and we are still using the things the ancient Chinese invented. Mathematics, warfare, and transportation are but a few of the fields where the Chinese excelled in.
Many of these treasured inventions were taken by the Europeans back to their homeland and made famous. Going forth we will discuss some of the most important of all the ancient Chinese inventions that were fundamental to the progress of this nation.

Important Chinese Inventions

In Engineering

► Here's where steel and iron developed. 1200 years before the Europeans used the blast furnace, obtaining cast iron from iron ore had already been developed by the Chinese folks around the 4th century. In the 2nd century BC, refining iron into steel had already been developed by the Chinese; in contrast to the popular belief that Henry Bessemer discovered the process of refining iron into steel. A superior weapon with a strong edge was created by welding strong steel with weaker iron.
► The Chain pump was invented by the Chinese in the 1st century BC; this device allows water to be pumped from lower to higher elevations. This is also used for irrigation that is needed in farming. In Europe, the first chain pump appeared in the 16th century.

► Around 1st century AD, the Chinese developed a drilling method to drill boreholes up to 48,000 feet. Deep drilling was then used to find natural gas.
► Mechanical clocks were invented in China in 8th century AD. The Chinese people invented this device in conjunction with astrology because Chinese Emperors were regarded as cosmic figures.

In Domestic and Industry

► One of the most recognized ancient inventions of the Chinese is the immediate precursor to paper around the 2nd century BC. Though the earliest dated record was papyrus which was a form of scroll that ancient Egyptians used to write on, the developing and pulp-making process that gave birth to the modern version of paper that we use today is credited to the Chinese. The basic processes that are involved in extracting the final result i.e. papyrus and paper, are different.
► Matches were another invention of the Chinese. Impoverished court ladies invented the first version of matches around 577 A.D. during a military siege in the short lived Northern Ch'i kingdom. The early versions of matches were sulfur-made. There was no evidence that matches appeared in Europe before 1530. Hence, it's possible that the first matches that appeared in Europe were brought over by travelers that visited the East.
► Between the years 1041 and 1048, Bi Sheng invented the movable type which is a form of printing. In the West, Johann Gutenberg is credited with introducing the movable type to Europe.

► Paper money was invented sometime in the 7th century AD. Silk notes were introduced by the Mongols who instead of precious metals asked for bundles of silk yarn in return as a form of deposit.

In Agriculture

► Winnowing is the separation of husk and stalk from grain after it is harvested. The Rotary Winnowing fan was invented around 2nd century BC. The Iron Plow was first promoted by Chinese government officials around 4th century BC. It was strong, heavy, square framed, and sturdy with an adjustable strut to regulate the plowing depth. Growing of crops in rows too was first practiced by the Chinese .Plants mature rapidly, when grown in rows. The Chinese had been doing this for over 2200.

In Warfare

► Alchemists, on the quest to find the elixir of immortality stumbled upon the invention of gunpowder. This obviously gave them the upper-hand when it came to products of an explosive nature hence, soon after the invention of gunpowder came the invention of fireworks followed by the first examples of gunpowder based weapons, and then a string of explosives. The formula for creating gunpowder was released in 1040 by Tseng Kung-Liang.
► We all assume that the Flame-thrower, a device that can continuously emit flame, was invented only around the 20th century, however, the Chinese people invented it around 10th century AD. The first use of this device was around 904 AD on a naval battle at the Yangtze River. Almost 150,000 soldiers were caught by the flame it belched out.
► The first Chinese Bomb was used around the 17th century to precipitate rain. The fuse was saturated with gunpowder while the gunpowder was wrapped in paper and sealed with wax. The Rocket Launcher - a multistage one, was used in naval battle around 14th century. The second-stage rocket would ignite when the rocket's head burnt out. In a flat trajectory, it could fly around three to four feet above the water, for a mile. This was the predecessor of the surface skimming naval rocket launcher.

In Mathematics

► Much of the Western world believe that Blaise Pascal invented the "Pascal Triangle" in 1654. However, this formula was studied much before by the Chinese, Persians, Indians and so on. Chinese algebra originated somewhere in the 13th century with the formulation of the Precious Mirror of the Four Elements that was created by Chu Shih Chieh. He also called his work "The Tabulation system for unlocking binomial coefficients."
► Pi is used to compute the volume of a sphere and area of a circle. After the introduction of the value of pi in three decimal places by Archimedes, and Ptolemy for four decimal places, no advancement for accuracy was achieved in the Western world. Liu Hui, after inscribing a polygon with 192 sides in a circle, thus calculated a value of pi as 3.14159.
► In the 5th century, the father and son tandem of Tsu Chung-Chih and Tsu Keng-Chih came about to obtain the most accurate value of pi which is 3.1415929203. The calculation of pi by Adriaen Anthoniszoon only gave 3.14929, extending only to seven places approximately - three digits short to that of the Tsu family.
► The ancient Chinese calculator known as the Abacus was made of beads that were inserted into rods that were held apart by two pieces of wood. This is an early version of the calculator that Chinese folks invented around 5000 years ago. This invention was so successful that it soon spread to all other countries. Even though technology has left the abacus behind only as a memory, it is still used today by a few people around the globe.

In Food and Drink

► The first tea was brewed in China, and that too by accident. Legend has it that when Emperor Shen Nong stopped to rest during a long journey, he told his servants to boil some hot water for him which he had the habit of sipping on because he thought it was good for health. While doing so a few camellia leaves fell in by mistake, the aroma that it gave out was so delicious that he couldn't resist tasting it. He found it so refreshing that he proclaimed that tea was good for health.
These were the main contributions that the Chinese had to give to the world that has changed it in a way that no one could possibly imagine without. Coming to think of it, what would we do without a calculator, or for that matter how dull would a celebration be if it weren't for fireworks, or how would you kick-start your day if it weren't for a hot cup of tea? These inventions have helped shape the world and definitely made it a better place to live in.