THE CHINESE SEISMOGRAPH

During the Han Dynasty an astronomer invented this earth-quake device to give warning of an earthquake.

This first seismograph looks like a bronze vase covered with dragons and toads. Inside the vase swung a long metal pendulum. Outside on the vase, eight dragonsí heads were mounted onto the sides, evenly spaced apart. In the open mouth of each dragon there rested a ball. Below each dragonís head protruded a large toad with its mouth open also.

When an earthquake occurred, the pendulum hanging in the middle of the vaseís interior would swing in the direction in which the earthquake occurred. The pendulum hit one of the eight rods inside the vase. The rod would knock a ball out of the dragonís mouth in front of it. The ball fell into the toads mouth directly below it. This ball, when observed by the astronomer, showed him in what direction the earthquake had occurred.

This information was real critical because the ancient Chinese were subject to many devastating earthquakes in China at the time. The Chinese were able to provide more rapid help to the victims and to then start delivering it in the right direction because of this information. Remember, that during this time period of ancient China there were no methods of fast communication available: so this invention saved valuable time, and obviously, many lives.

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