February 5, 2007
Ancient Chinese Contributions
As a young child growing up in Chicago Illinois, I remember my family excitedly preparing for the fourth of July fireworks show that took place annually at the Navy Pier. I remember staring up into the Chicago sky at night in anticipation of the first round of fireworks. The crowed all around me excited and ready for the show. From the beginning of the show with the first explosion and until the last firework faded into the night, I was riveted, almost in a spell. At that time when I was a child, I made no connection between the Chinese and this great spectacle that I loved to see. As I have grown older I have learned many things that escaped me when I was a child. I can remember sitting at home waiting for Kung Fu Theater to begin, I can recall most of the settings taking place during the early feudal times in China. I never really paid much attention to the display of fireworks in some of these movies or any of the other numerous inventions that the Chinese developed over time. I made no connections at all, now looking back it all makes sense, I understand the significance of those things I witnessed as a child. Now I understand the quality of life many of those things invented so long ago have afforded me today. The following is an excerpt from the Minnesota-China Connection website; You may think that fireworks are as American as the Fourth of July, but we would not have them without Chinese inventiveness. The first fireworks might have been an accident. Legend tells that a cook discovered the ingredients for black powder, and quickly the Chinese were entertaining themselves with beautiful displays in the night sky. In the year 1161, the Chinese used explosives for the first time in warfare. And who invented cannons and guns? The Chinese, of course. They also used gunpowder to make primitive flamethrowers and even explosive mines and multiple-stage rockets. The use of gunpowder in weapons gave those with access to the technology a greater ability to protect themselves from enemies or to conquer and control others. It greatly affected the balance of power in many parts of the world. Chinese firearms, fireworks and gunpowder were popular items of trade along the Silk Route (or Silk Road) to Europe. (1994-2011, The Franklin Institute) When I was a child I enjoyed fireworks so much that it has stuck with me all these years and so much that I made sure my children had the chance to experiences it too. Another memory comes to mind much later on in life and was while I was serving on board the USS Donald Cook DDG 75. I can recall one summer while we out to sea doing weapon systems certifications. During one particular evolution we fired more than 180 rounds from the ships 5'' 54 main gun. After that evolution nearly every corner of the ship reeked of cordite. This particular assignment brought that memory back. This is the first of the most important inventions ever. Not just because of fireworks, but because the invention of gun power enabled the average man to hunt for food more effectively, kill his prey from a greater distance and take down larger animals. It also enable man to defend his family, home, community and or country.
The second greatest invention would be paper, printing and publishing, this Chinese invention could be arguably the number one most important invention in the history of man. But if I had to chose with having paper or a gun, I will take the gun every time. But the ability to record and preserve information efficiently, could have only been done with the invention of paper. The ability to duplicate important documents for larger consumption by the general population could not have happened without this invention. Here is another excerpt from the Minnesota-China Connection website; In almost every respect, the Chinese were at...