China: 3 Significant Inventions

Topics: Printing, Compass, China Pages: 4 (989 words) Published: May 17, 2013
Anika A. 2012

What was so significant about these 3 inventions?
—How were they discovered?
—What were they commonly used for?
—What substantial impacts have they each had?

3 Significant Inventions

Gunpowder, printing, and the magnetic compass: 3 significant inventions, all either invented, or first used, in ancient China. 17th century English philosopher, Sir Francis Bacon, described these innovations as 3 inventions which “changed the world”. The practical use of gunpowder, magnetic compasses, and the early printing techniques, developed the culture of China, along with the future of other nations. Their impacts were truly miraculous throughout history.

Gunpowder was the first chemical explosive to be discovered, and the only one to be known to man till the mid-1800. Gunpowder is a compound mixture of sulphur, charcoal, and potassium nitrate (saltpetre). The sulphur and charcoal act as fuels, while the saltpetre works as an oxidizer. Gunpowder was first discovered in China during the 9th century, by Chinese alchemists in search for an elixir to provide immortality. It was initially the pyrotechnic composition for fireworks, due to the amounts of heat and gas it generates, and its impressive burning properties. Gunpowder was used as the propellant in firearms, as well as to create powerful battle weapons. The use of gunpowder simplified many difficult tasks and was widely utilised during constructions.

A compass is a navigational instrument that measures different directions in a frame of reference that is stationary relation to the surface of the earth. The frame of reference defines the four basic directions—north, south, east and west. The intermediate directions may also be showed. Commonly, a diagram called a compass rose is marked at the centre to show the directions. The four basic directions correspond to degrees in a circle, with north being zero degrees. The degrees increase in a clockwise direction.

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