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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
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 of the world by way of visiting ambassadors and
dignitaries. The first European chain pump appeared in the sixteenth century, and was a
direct copy of the Chinese version.
The second area of great Chinese achievement is in domestic and industrial
technology. The most recognized Chinese invention is in the field of domestic and
industrial technology, paper. Paper was invented around the second century BC and was
used as clothing. One might not believe that paper could be used as clothing, but the paper
made at that time used thicker and tougher paper fibers. Not only was paper used for
clothing, it was also used for military body armor. The Chinese found out that pleated
sheets of paper could stop the penetration of arrows. The paper armor was standard issue
with Chinese land and sea units. Paper�s writing property was not discovered till about
one century after its discovery. The earliest example of writing on paper was found an
abandon military post. The paper found dates back to 110 AD and contained two dozen
The area that let China grow and expand was the innovations in the area of
agriculture. The greatest achievement in the field of agriculture is row cultivation and
intensive hoeing. In
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Steelmaking, Building materials, Agricultural machinery, Seed drill, Han Chinese, Blast furnace, Agriculture, Ferrous metallurgy, China, Ming dynasty, Steel, Cast iron
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