How Chinese thinkers changed the world
Today I would like to talk about a few inventions that are so old that we don’t really think about where they came from, but in case anyone was wondering, they came from China!
Fireworks & Gunpowder
Two really great inventions that were thought of by the Chinese are fireworks and gunpowder. Even though a lot of people might think that it is an American invention, it was the Chinese who used explosives for the first time. Legends tell that a cook discovered by accident the ingredients for the black powder and soon after the Chinese were entertaining themselves with beautiful displays at night time.
Guess what they also invented… noodles! I am sure that the first country that pops into your mind in connection with the invention of pasta is Italy, but actually it is China. The Chinese have been eating noodles for four thousand years. When European explorers came to Asia they learned the delicious and nutritious value of noodles during their encounters with the Chinese. The Chinese invented rice noodles, when the explorers came back to Europe they made noodles out of wheat flour instead of rice, creating the pasta most of us know today.
Writing, Paper, and the Printed Word
Probably the most important invention made by the Chinese was writing. In 1700 BC, symbols were carved on oracle bones in China, today these are thought to be the first true writing.
Along with the writing, the Chinese were at the forefront of developing the printed word. As far back as 105 A.D., Ts’ai Lun invented the process of manufacturing paper, therefore the first use of paper was also in China. The paper was superior in quality to the baked clay, papyrus and parchment used in other parts of the world.
The first printed newspaper, in form of a woodblock printing, was available in Beijing in 700 A.D.
The magnetic compass is also a very helpful tool the Chinese have invented. As early as 500 BC, Chinese scientists had studied and learned much about magnetism in nature. They used this information to create navigational compasses which were widely used on Chinese ships, enabling them to navigate without stars in view.
No one knows for certain where the kite originated, but many believe it was invented in China a couple thousand years ago. Many credit the Chinese with the kite because they had bamboo to build the frame and silk to make the sail and flying line. Both materials were strong enough and light enough to fly. There are many legends about the origins of the kite. One suggests the idea came to a Chinese farmer who tied a string to his hat to keep it from blowing away. Today you can see kites all over the world.
And here are some other funny Chinese inventions: