China Country Study

Essay by connortistCollege, UndergraduateA+, March 2009

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China is known for many things but the most prominent on the history of the world is the Chinese advances in science and technology. Chinese philosophers made significant advances in science, mathematics, technology, and astronomy all of which have had a huge impact on, not only their civilization, but the entire world. Without many of the inventions that came from China, we would not have the world we know today. People often talk about the “Four Great Inventions” which are: the compass, gunpowder, papermaking, and printing. Though these things were essential in creating the society around us, China also produced many more things that have benefited us greatly.

First let us address these four “Great Inventions” that China has given us. Of the four, paper and printing came first during the Tang Dynasty. These were followed by the development of the compass, though it is difficult to say exactly when this was; it is thought to be between AD 20 and 100.

The final of the four was gunpowder. Around AD 300, Ge Hong, of the Jin Dynasty concluded that mixing saltpeter, pine resin, and charcoal with heat created a chemical reaction. I found it interesting that around AD 850 gunpowder was also recorded as a byproduct of an alchemist’s effort to develop an elixir of immortality.

Another major contribution that can be contributed to the Chinese empire is some of their medical practices. The practice of acupuncture can be traced back to the 1st millennium BC; from them we also adopted herbal medicines.

The first observations of supernovae (the explosion of a very large star), comets, and solar eclipses on record were made in China. During the Eastern Han Dynasty, scholars invented an armillary sphere. This device enabled them to catalog 2,500 stars and over 100 constellations. The...