GeoTech: How China gave the world gunpowder

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GunShotIf you’ve ever shot a gun and felt that burning rush of power-lustful adrenaline, and totally loved the sh*t out of it, you can send your thank you letters to China.

Yes, 11th century Chinese alchemists are to credit for all the explosive deaths the world has seen and, more importantly, for your Fourth of July fireworks. Without it, we would have no Gun Rights advocates and no Chipotle firearm parade to gossip about.

As far as we can tell, China formulated gunpowder in 1044 and immediately started building honest-to-god firearms and fireworks. Then they got to work on flamethrowers to let the world know, “We’re not f*cking around.”

After Genghis Khan showed up and made history as the world’s scariest badass, the Mongolians started f*cking sh*t up for everybody and apparently picked the right allies. The Mongols quickly adopted this Chinese technology two hundred years after its invention because who doesn’t want to blow stuff up?

The Chinese soldiers serving in the Mongol army (after they were conquered, of course) were more than happy to start catapulting gunpowder bombs into Islamic nations and, once the Muslims caught onto the whole “snow of China” business, they spent the next few hundred years building cannons and rockets and torpedos. I mean, jeez, talk about accelerated innovation.

Historians speculate that India received an introduction to the snow of China similarly, adapting quickly during their own Mongol invasion. Just to be clear, they loved the whole fireworks thing.

Europe was the last region to be notified about the new form of body-exploding war tactic, even after gunpowder was trickling into Africa with immigration via Egypt. Nobody knows for sure if it arrived on the Silkroad, or if the Mongols shot them up as well but, either way, Whitey didn’t waste any time before getting creative. By the 1300s, the Spanish were toting around guns and military men everywhere were adopting cannons into their infantry. But traditional, sword-wielding knights went all Luddite on musketeers when they started to go mainstream– the more Christian folk going so far as to call them a blasphemous part of “Black Arts”. It appears as though human nature hasn’t evolved much.

Over the next few centuries, India and Persia took full advantage of their head-start and continued to develop gunpowder technology at a rate that scared the piss out of everybody else but, by the 1800s, Europeans were blowing sh*t up on a scale that instilled the fear of God into literally everyone they came into contact with. Like, they did so much exploding.

Today’s guns no longer use a traditional form of gunpowder but instead employ a smokeless powder due to corrosion problems caused by sulfur in the old stuff. Most of our modern blow-stuff-up technology has far surpassed the use of good old fashioned gunpowder, opting for more destructive options such as splitting atoms and injecting things with nitroglycerin. But however explosive tech advances in the future, we’ll always be able to look back fondly on all the incendiary deaths that paved the way for today’s weapons of mass destruction. Good times!

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