Chinese Inventions

by Camille Colwyn

Introduction

Today, there are many things we take for granted in our day-to-day life. Steel? Many of us couldn't tell the difference between bronze and copper, matter of fact between steel and iron. Vaccinations are just annoyances that you have to deal with every few years. And paper is never worthy of a second thought. But long ago these items were considered cutting-edge technology. And they all came from ancient China.

Steel

Timeline-- before 200 B.C.E.

Steels are alloys of iron and carbon, but unlike iron steel is much less brittle and easier to mold and shape. The Chinese first began producing cast iron by melting and molding iron ores. Later, they realized that combining melted iron and air resulted in a new alloy- steel. Steel is extremely useful-- it is stronger and more flexible than iron and is relatively cheep to produce. Steel was imperative to the Western Industrial Revolution, when China began its mass production. Steel and iron making is still very important to the Chinese economy today.

Vaccination

Timeline-- around the 10th century

The Chinese are responsible for many revolutionary discoveries in the world of medicine- early forms of disinfectant; boiling victim's clothing to get rid of germs; and, most importantly, early inoculations. The Chinese were extremely far ahead of their time in this aspect- around this time, European doctors attempted blood-letting in the hope of healing their patient (though this only made them weaker and more susceptible to illness). Chinese inoculations were performed by taking the ground-up scab from a victim of the disease to be inoculated against and putting it in the patient's nose. Many lives would have been lost throughout the ages if this important discovery had not been made.

Paper

Timeline-- 2nd century

Made from hemp, then mulberry bark, then rags, Chinese paper evolved gradually through the centuries after it was first conceived. For over 500 years, China was the only country to discover the making of paper. The trade spread first to Japan and Central Asia, and didn't reach Europe until after 1100. Paper making remained huge industry in ancient China. Much information that led to other discoveries were spread through the use of paper.