According to history, the Chinese are credited with invention of paper and, depending on which version of history you go with, this took place somewhere between the 2nd Century B.C. and the beginning of 2nd Century A.D., in A.D. 105. I prefaced this with “according to history” because evidence does exist that paper was around long before either of these dates.
Despite history’s claim that paper did not make it to Mesopotamia until much later (500 A.D.), the Bible mentions paper twice. The Gospel of John, written around A.D. 85, mentions not only paper, but ink as well. Some argue the writer of this book, John, could have heard of paper and ink from travelers. Maybe, but unless he familiar with using it, it’s doubtful he would reference it in the manner he did. Even if that were true, Isaiah also mentions the word–and that book was written (a little at a time) from 740-680 B.C. That’s about five or six centuries before the earliest reports of paper showing up in China.
To be fair, the paper in the Bible wasn’t exactly the same as in China. Instead of using wood pulp, beating and drying it, in Mesopotamia they used reeds and the pith (sinews) of the papyrus plant. (Which is where we get the word paper). The results were much the same. To me, it sounds like the Chinese just “borrowed” the idea, then used what they had readily available. They even stole the word! But, arguing with history is ultimately futile. Even if it’s wrong, it won’t be rewritten. So, we’ll let the Chinese have their claim to fame in the paper department. In any event, it is safe to say that paper has been around, in one form or another, for literally thousands of years.
Now, let’s jump ahead a few centuries to a more recent invention. The airplane. The Wright Brothers are generally acknowledged as the first to make a successful flight of a powered aircraft at Kitty Hawk, NC in 1903. However, recently, that too has become the subject of dispute. But again, you can’t really argue with history–all the proof is gone.
By now, I’m sure everyone is thinking I’ve finally lost it; that this blog has made absolutely no sense so far. My sanity, or insanity, notwithstanding, there is a point to all of this. More of a question really. And that is this; how in the world could it take so long from the invention of paper to that of airplanes? We’re talking thousands of years! And in all that time, there wasn’t anyone who folded paper and made it fly? Really? No one? In all that time?
Okay that was more than one question, I know. But I can’t imagine that somebody, somewhere didn’t notice that if they folded a piece of paper a certain way and dropped it off a house, or some other high place, it would become airborne. And if they did, wouldn’t the next logical step be to construct a more durable airplane? And then, maybe shoot for one big enough to carry people? I would have. But, history says no.
And now, I’m sure you see why my teachers were not overly impressed with me in school!