A few more of the far-reaching Chinese inventions which changed the world
(From ‘Humans are free’ article “22 Chinese inventions which changed the world”)
Roads and Relay Hostels: Roads and relay hostels, or inns, greatly improved communication and trade throughout the vast land of China. By the late 700’s, inns offered horses and food to travelers, and provided places for government officials to stay for the night during long journeys.
The system of roads allowed government inspectors, tax collectors, and postal messengers to move long distances. Messengers delivered mail across hundreds of miles. Merchants could carry trade goods such as rice, tea, silk, and seafood without fear of bandits.
Sciences: Astronomy, physics, chemistry, meteorology, seismology, technology, engineering, and mathematics can trace their early origins to China.
Scholars routinely discovered scientific principles and invented new ones. A number of notable astronomical discoveries were made prior to the application of the telescope. For example, the obliquity of the ecliptic was estimated as early as 1000 BC by Chinese astronomers.
From 600 AD until 1500 AD, China was the world’s most technologically advanced society. The history of science and technology in China is both long and rich with many contributions to science and technology.
In antiquity, ancient Chinese philosophers made significant advances in science, technology, mathematics, and astronomy. The first recorded observations of comets, solar eclipses, and supernovae were made in China.
Ancient Chinese scientists already possessed knowledge of alchemy. When it comes to scientific achievements and developments in ancient China, alchemy would be placed in the first chapter of the history book of chemistry.
According to the ancient Chinese Taoist concept of making dan, an energy cluster in a cultivator’s body, collected from other dimensions, in the furnace, once dan is formed, it has the capability of changing any tangible substance into gold or silver.
Dan can also transform the physical body and bodies in other dimensions, thus promoting a cultivator to transcend time, space, and the human body and enter into higher levels of cultivation.
The first seismograph, credited to the Royal Astronomer of the late Han Dynasty, Chang Heng, was designed as a cast bronze vessel with nine dragons facing different directions, each of which held a ball in its mouth.
Any seismic activity detected by the vessel would prompt the balls to fall into the corresponding mouths of the nine frogs sitting below the dragons, which would point to the direction of the earth tremor.
This natural measuring tool did not appear in the West until approximately 1,500 years later, where it has since been instrumental in measuring and predicting earthquakes in places like California and Mexico.
Smallpox Inoculation: A Daoist monk introduced the technique of inoculation to the physicians in the capital. By the 16th century it was widely practiced against smallpox in China. The technique was unknown in Europe until the 1800’s, when it was introduced by Doctor Louis Pasteur.
Spinning Wheel: Silk was first made by the Chinese about 4000 years ago. Silk thread is made from the cocoon of the silkworm moth, whose caterpillar eats the the leaves of the mulberry tree. Silk spinners needed a method to deal with the tough, long silk threads.
To meet the increasing demand for silk fabric, the Chinese developed the spinning wheel in 1035. This simple circular machine, easily operated by one person, could wind fine fibers of silk into thread.
The invention used a wheel to stretch and align the fibers. A drive belt made the wheels spin. Italians who traveled to China during the Mongol dynasty brought the invention to Europe in the 14th century.
Stirrups: The invention of the stirrup was timely and appreciated. Before its appearance, riders had to hold on tightly to the horse’s mane to avoid falling off, in addition to having to mount the horse by a flying leap or a pole vault.
This invention, one that did not appear in the West until 400 years later .and led to the development of another unique Chinese invention: water polo.
Umbrella: In written records, the oldest reference to a collapsible umbrella dates to the year 21 A.D., when Wang Mang had one designed for a ceremonial four-wheeled carriage.
The 2nd century commentator Fu Qian added that this collapsible umbrella of Wang Mang’s carriage had bendable joints which enabled them to be extended or retracted.
I-Ching and Yin Yang : Written by King Wen and his son, Duke Chou, nearly 3,000 years ago, the ancient book of “I-Ching” (Book of Transformations) to this day provides guidance to those seeking the true organization and balance of the Universe’s natural elements.
The “yin” and the “yang,” representing all the possible sets of naturally paired opposites, is incorporated into this philosophical work, which has become part history and part eternal spiritual guide.