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                      Learn Chinese - History and Culture

                      The Invention of Gunpowder
                      Gunpowder (huǒ yào 火藥) was invented in China rest on variable interpretations of certain passages in ancient manuscripts. Few substances in history have had as profound an effect on human history as gunpowder, and its discovery was an accident.

                      saltpeterAlong with the silk and paper, gunpowder is another invention by Chinese and the Silk Road (sī chóu zhī lù 絲綢之路) helped it spread to the west. The formula (pèi fāng 配方) of the gunpowder was first discovered by Taoist (dào shì 道士) alchemists of ancient China when trying to seek the elixir of immortality (cháng shēng bù lǎo 長生不老). During the Tang Dynasty (táng dài 唐代), around 850 A.D., an enterprising alchemist mixed 75 parts saltpeter (xiāo shí 硝石) with 15 parts charcoal (mù tàn 木炭) and 10 parts sulfur (liú huáng 硫磺). This mixture had no discernable life-lengthening properties, but it did explode with a flash and a bang when exposed to an open flame. This earliest account reported the experiment: "some have heated together the saltpeter, sulfur and carbon of charcoal with honey; smoke and flames result, so that their hands and faces have been burnt, and even the whole house burnt down." Books of the middle Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD) also recorded the method of producing this kind of gunpowder.

                      sulfurThe gunpowder was first used to make firecrackers and fireworks, and then used in military affairs in the late Tang Dynasty, which was first recorded in 919 A.D. By the 11th century, explosive bombs filled with gunpowder and fired from catapults were introduced and used in China. The words "fire cannon " (huǒ pào 火炮), "rocket " (huǒ jiàn 火箭), "missile " (dǎo dàn 導彈) and "fireball " (huǒ qiú 火球) appeared time and again in the official Song (sòng 宋) history as well as two other books written during the same period. Thegunpowder first detailed description of using "firing cannon" in warfare was in connection with a battle fought in 1126 when the Song army used it against the invading enemies. The so-called fire cannon was a tube made of bamboo filled with gunpowder which, when fired, threw a flaming missile towards the enemy. Since the barrel was made of bamboo, the flying missile could not cover a long distance. According to a description of a battle scene in 1132, it took two persons to carry a "fire cannon", and the cannons were fired from a moving platform after it had been moved close to the wall of the besieged city.

                      The Chinese invention of gunpowder never went much beyond its crudest form, and it was abandoned as a military weapon shortly afterwards. From its ancient source in China, it traveled the danger-laden paths of the Silks Road and with it traveled the knowledge to both remakes and destroys the world. By the 13th century the secret had spread to Islamic Asia where it was used against Europeans. Ever since, gunpowder has been an effective weapon of the military and political establishments.

                      Down through the centuries, Chinese inventions have had a profound effect on human culture. Items like paper, the magnetic compass, and silk have diffused around the world. None of those inventions, however, have had quite the impact that gunpowder has, for good and for bad.


                      four inventions of China????? 火藥是中國古代煉丹家在煉丹過程中發明的。人類最早使用的火藥是黑火藥,它是我國勞動人民在一千多年前發明的。它的發明,聞名于世,被稱為我國古代科技的四大發明之一。

                      ????? 秦漢之際煉丹術開始盛行,方士們為了煉制仙丹妙藥,把各類藥物彼此配合燒煉。硝石與三黃(硫磺、雄黃、雌黃)共煉燃燒爆炸,因此導致了火藥的發明。有記載,托名西晉鄭思遠所撰名為《真元妙道要略》的一本煉丹書里,就曾談到:有人將硫磺、硝石、雄黃(As2S3)和蜜合起來一起燒,結果火焰升起,把臉和手燒壞,而且直沖屋頂,把房子也燒了。這類實驗的多次進行,經驗的不斷積累,認識的逐步提高,使人們終于掌握了火藥的配制。同類的實驗在唐代中期的《鉛汞甲 辰至寶集成》卷二中也有記載,并且記載有關于失敗的教訓,也從而學會利用這種混合物的燃燒爆炸性能。

                      ????? 據宋代路振的《九國志》記載,唐哀帝時(十世紀),鄭王番率軍攻打豫章(今江西南昌),“發機飛火”,燒毀該城的龍沙門。這可能是有關用火藥攻城的最早記 載。到了兩宋時期火藥武器發展很快。據《宋史.兵記》記載:公元970年兵部令史馮繼升進火箭法,這種方法是在箭桿前端縛火藥筒,點燃后利用火藥燃燒向后 噴出的氣體的反作用力把箭簇射出,這是世界上最早的噴射火器。公元1000年,士兵出身的神衛隊長唐福向宋朝廷獻出了他制作的火箭、火球、火蒺藜等火器。 北宋末年出現了爆炸威力比較大的火器“霹靂炮”、“震天雷”。公元1126年,李綱守開封時,就用霹靂炮擊退了金兵的圍攻。南宋時出現了管狀火器,公元 1132年陳規發明了火槍?;饦屖怯砷L竹竿做成,先把火藥裝在竹竿內,作戰時點燃火藥噴向敵軍。陳規守安德時就用了“長竹竿火槍二十余條”。gunpowder

                      ????? 早在八、九世紀時,和醫藥、煉丹術的知識一起,硝也由中國傳到阿拉伯。13世紀火藥是由商人經印度傳入阿拉伯國家的。在與阿拉伯國家的戰爭中,歐洲人逐步 掌握了制造火藥和火藥兵器的技術?;鹚巶鞯綒W洲后,被各國用來制造兵器,還在開山、修路、挖河等工程中廣泛使用,中國的火藥推進了世界歷史的進程。


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