Top 5 Greatest Chinese inventions
As China continues to lead the world in many key areas of science and economics, it is worth considering that the present-day entrepreneurs and innovators shaping the nation's destiny are actually following in illustrious footsteps. China has a rich heritage of inventors, dynamic individuals whose intellectual abilities not only made life better for their fellow citizens; in many cases they completely transformed the world.
China's booming 21st century economy owes much to the pioneers who have strived for greatness over the centuries. Although it is impossible for any list to be anything other than subjective, here is a suggested top 5 for those historic achievements.
1. Gunpowder While Medieval Europeans were settling their differences on the battlefield by bashing each other with sharp pieces of metal in the 12th century, the Chinese had already invented gunpowder. By extrapolation, harnessing the power of these explosives led to cannons, and then guns, mines and rockets. Possessing these potentially destructive weapons gave successive Chinese Imperial dynasties supreme power in the Far East. Firearms and fireworks became popular trade items along the so-called Silk Route across Central Asia to Europe.
2. Music It was the Ling-lun, musician to the Chinese court, who fashioned the world's first recorded reed instrument. Carved from a bamboo pipe, he was creating his unique melodies for Chinese royalty sometime between 3000 and 2500 B.C. From these relatively simplistic origins, Chinese music grew ever more complex, eventually employing a five note scale.
3. Pasta While this has been associated with Italy for many years, this foodstuff owed its origins to the Chinese. Pasta is simply a variation on the much older Chinese noodle, something that has formed a staple part of the diet in this part of the world for over 4,000 years. It was only when early European traders arrived in China that they discovered this highly versatile foodstuff and decided to borrow the recipe!
4. Science Chinese scientific advancements have been leading the way for the rest of the world for thousands of years. The decimal system was introduced in China in the 4th century, almost 600 years before the Europeans cottoned on to its revolutionary simplicity. In the 2nd century there is evidence that Chinese scholars were aware of the notion of blood circulation, even although the history books falsely credit its ‘discovery' with English physician William Harvey in 1628. In 1080 Chinese science was advancing theories about climate change based on the study of plant fossils. They also went on to explain the causes of solar and lunar eclipses.
5. Printing and Publishing Ts'ai Lun perfected the process for manufacturing paper in 105 A.D. This was far superior to the baked clay or papyrus used elsewhere in the world at that time. Four centuries later China produced the world's first printing press, while the first newspaper was published in Beijing in 700 A.D.
Without these innovations, civilization could not have advanced on any level – educational, political or literary – to the extent that it has to this day.