What is the importance of paper

The question of the week: who invented paper?

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The question of the week: who invented paper?

Every week we answer your questions on all kinds of topics. Today Timo asks us: Who invented paper? Here's the answer ...

How is paper made?


Paper is a material based on plant origin. Today paper is produced either by recycling waste paper or by wood.


The latter method mainly uses thinner trunks and fast-growing woods. To do this, the debarked wood is shredded in a paper factory until only sawdust is left. It is either ground into so-called wood pulp or into chips.


So-called pulp is made from this by soaking the sawdust in water and chemically treating it. The result is a viscous paste to which substances such as glue or bleach are added. Finally, the pulp is pressed into long strips and dried. This is how wood becomes paper.



Who invented paper?


Today nobody can say exactly who invented paper. The process of making paper was first mentioned by the Chinese Cai Lun in 105 AD.


Nevertheless, there are paper finds from China that date back to the year 200 BC and are therefore much older than the records of Cai Lun.




Who was Cai Lun?


Cai Lun was a eunuch and official under the Chinese Emperor He. He lived from 50 AD to about 114 AD. Lun was employed in the authority for the manufacture of instruments and weapons at the Chinese imperial court and documented the paper production for this.




How was paper made back then?


Back then, paper was mostly made from hemp and old rags. These fabrics were supplemented with tree bark or bast of the mulberry tree. Then the fabrics were cleaned and the fiber residues were crushed, boiled and watered.


A sieve scooped off the individual layers of this paste, after which the vegetable fiber pulp was dried, pressed and finally smoothed.


During the skimming process, one side was created that was above the sieve, the so-called fine side, and one side that was on the sieve, the so-called sieve side. The pattern of the sieve was embossed into the sieve side, whereas the fine side was relatively flat after smoothing.


However, Cai Lun's paper was not only used for writing, it was also ideal for decorating rooms (e.g. as wallpaper).




Explanations of words:


recycling comes from the English word of the same name and means recycling or recycling. It describes the process of reusing products that are no longer required.


A eunuch is a person of the male sex who has been castrated.


bast is the living tissue under the outer layer of most trees.

If you want to know everything you have to know in order to be able to invent things, then take a look at our WHAT IS WHAT Volume 35: Inventions

Text: RR, as of April 12, 2012, illustrations: Tessloff archive.

Note: All images and links have been removed from the archive