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Great Chinese Inventions

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Great Chinese Inventions

The World is forever in debt to China for its innovations.

Ancient China was extreme advance and many of its discoveries are

still in use today. This is what Robert Temple, the author of The

Genius of China 3000 years of science, discovery and invention. The

book is based on 11 main parts of Chinese innovation. Within these 11

categories, there are 3 main parts that contain the most significant

inventions. Robert Temple concentrates the bulk of his examples in

these three categories, agriculture, domestic and industrial

technology , and engineering. Temple's examples were not limited

to these fields of innovation. The Chinese excelled in many other

areas, including mathematics, warfare and transportation, to name a

few. Although Temple wrote about eleven fields of invention, I feel

that these three sections contain the greatest examples of Chinese

innovation, and the debt that the modern world owes China.

The first main area is the field of engineering. Within this

chapter, the development of iron and steel is the greatest

achievement. The development of iron and steel led to other advances.

By at least the 4th century the Chinese have developed blast furnaces

to obtain cast iron from iron ore. This was 1200 years before the

first blast furnace showed up in Europe. The reasons that the author

gave to explain the reasons why the Chinese developed this technology

are simple. The Chinese had access to large amounts of clay, the key

ingredient in making blast furnaces. The Chinese also figured out

that by adding a substance they called 'Black Earth,' they could lower

the melting point of iron.

Another major invention of the Chinese, that led to other

achievements, is steel. The common belief today is that Henry Bessemer

discovered the process of refining iron into steel. The fact is

Chinese had developed the process to refine iron into steel in the

second century BC The Chinese learned that by injecting oxygen into

the blast furnace, they could remove the carbon from the iron. The

Chinese called this process the 'hundred refinings method' since they

repeated the process that many times. The finished product was highly

prized in China for its strength and ability to hold an edge on a

sword. The Chinese would weld the steel onto weaker iron thus creating

a strong edge and a superior weapon. The Chinese iron and steel

workers were the best at making different types of metals into modern

times. But then, no one else could have done so at the time, since

iron existed nowhere else but in China.

The Chinese invented the chain pump in the first century AD The

chain pump allows water to the pumped from lower to higher elevations.

The chain pumps were used for draining and pumping in civil

engineering, but what is more important is it was used for irrigation.

Irrigation allows for greater and more intense farming, thus resulting

in a better crop yield. With the greater crop yields larger

populations can be supported. The chain pump was exported to all parts

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