Saturday, November 6, 2010

Happy Divali----------------The Birth Of The Rocket

            It is divali. At night we see rockets zooming skywards triggering a lot of excitement. How many of us are aware that these rockets had their early beginnings in 13th century China?  Not many. 

           According to legends, a chef with the Chinese army mixed three kitchen ingredients--saltpeter, sulfur and charcoal. He dropped these ingredients inadvertently into fire and this produced a colourful flame. This made him excited and he tried to burn it in a closed bamboo shoot. This resulted in an enormous explosion, leading to the creation of the first cracker.

           Many stories also refer to a Chinese monk named Li Tian as the inventor of the ancient Chinese fireworks and subsequently developed it into gunpowder. The Chinese hand carved wooden rockets in the shape of a dragon and filled it with gunpowder. They used this rocket as a weapon against the Mongolian army in 1232.  They are described as fire arrows.

           Rockets first became known to the Europeans when they were used by the Mongols in their conquests of Russia and Eastern Europe by Genghis Khan and his Ogedei Khan.  It is also believed that the Mongols acquired rocket technology during their invasion of northern China.

           According to history of rocketry published by Nasa, rockets first appeared in Arabic literature in 1258AD.

           Rockets continued to advance in the 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th centuries.

           They also were designed and developed in India in the 20th century----and very successfully.

           Happy Divali. Tonight when you see a firework you will know where they had their beginnings!




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