History of Paper

1180 Words 5 Pages
The first historical mention of paper is 104 A.D. in China. The Empress of China at that time loved books and wanted to have a lot of them made. At the time everything was written on silk scrolls which were extremely expensive and time consuming to make. She wanted something cheaper and easier to use and so she asked one of her servants, a gentleman by the name of Tsi Lun to come up with an alternative. He worked for over nine years experimenting with different things and finally came up with hemp, mulberry tree bark, silk and old fishing nets all ground up into a mushy pulp. I wonder how he ever thought of it; the history books don't say. The Empress was very pleased and Tsi Lun was elevated to a high rank in the court. Unfortunately for …show more content…
An increase in literacy in the 18'th century and the resultant explosion of print caused a rag shortage for making paper and research began to find an alternative source of fibers from which to make paper. The industry, unfortunately, turned toward trees which were rather abundant at the time but getting rather scarce today because of our love of the use of paper. The reason trees were choosen was their cellulose content. Cellulose is actually the stuff out of which paper is formed. All plant matter has cellulose fiber. Some more so than others. Trees have a lot of cellulose.
Why Cellulose? Cunously, the answer lies in the molecular structure of cellulose and water. It is a very interesting story that borders on magic and wizardry. Water molecules have one large proton and two little electrons. You could think of an image like a Mickey Mouse head with two ears and you will have an image of a water molecule. Water molecule electrons have the habit of chaining together on the surface of water, which causes an effect called 'surface tension.' You could imagine a series of Mickey Mouse heads joined together at their ears and you will have a picture of how this works. This chaining process is the key to making paper. Cellulose fibers have one large proton and one electron with a place on the proton for another electron to 'chain in' (a Mickey Mouse head with only one ear). When cellulose is suspended in water the water molecules do not discriminate against the…