Who’s the greatest scientist of all time? Whoever your guess is, we think he or she is unborn. Whatever! Every civilization has a legendary inventor who has been revolutionary in the course of history. Greece had Archimedes, Italy had da Vinci, Great Britain had Newton, Germany had Einstein, America had Edison, Serbia had Tesla, heck, even Arabia had al-Haytham. And what had Asia to offer? Dear friends, meet Jang Youngsil, the greatest scientist from the Far East.
Related media: Jang Youngsil | 장영실
His Humble Beginnings
Jang Youngsil was a legendary Korean inventor and scientist who lived during the Joseon Dynasty, from 1390 to 1460. He was born in a small village in Hwanghae Province, which is now located in modern-day North Korea.
Despite being born into a poor family, Jang’s passion for science led him to achieve greatness, inventing miraculous machines that would earn him a reputation among his peers as one of the greatest scientists in Asia.
As a young boy, Jang was always fascinated by the movement and workings of various tools and equipment. He was particularly interested in astronomy and mechanics, and he would spend hours tinkering with different mechanisms to learn how they worked. He was entirely self-taught and never received any formal education.
His Inventions And Achievements
His first invention was a water clock that could tell time accurately. It is unclear in which year exactly he invented it, as there are no precise records available. However, it is believed to have been created during the early part of Jang’s career, when he was experimenting with different mechanisms and devices.
This achievement caught the attention of the royal court, who began to show interest in Jang’s work. During the early days of his career, he went on to design and build an armillary sphere, which could track celestial movement, as well as a rain gauge, which could measure rainfall with incredible precision.
However, Jang’s most popular invention by far was the world’s first self-striking water clock. The clock used a chain reaction mechanism to strike a bell every hour, and it quickly became widely popular among wealthy and influential members of society. The clock was so advanced that it even accounted for changes in temperature and atmospheric pressure, meaning that it would continue to keep accurate time, no matter the weather conditions.
Jang was able to achieve all of these feats despite facing numerous obstacles. He lived during a time of political unrest and conflict in Korea, and this made it challenging for him to create and innovate. Moreover, his poverty meant that resources were limited, and he had to rely on his ingenuity and cleverness to create his inventions.
Jang’s achievements did not go unnoticed, and he was soon appointed as the chief engineer for the government. As part of this role, he was responsible for designing and building a range of advanced weapons and other military equipment. During this time, he created several innovations, including multi-shot firearms, repeating crossbows, and even a primitive submarine!
His Latter Life
Towards the end of his life, Jang became increasingly interested in Buddhism and began to devote more of his time to religious activities. Nonetheless, the legacy of his inventions continued to live on long after his passing. His contributions to science and technology were so significant that he was posthumously awarded the title of “The Great Inventor” by the Joseon Dynasty, an honor that he fully deserved.
His Legacy: Asia’s Greatest Scientist
Today, Jang Youngsil is remembered as a true innovator who defied the odds and achieved greatness despite humble beginnings. His achievements serve as an inspiration to future generations of scientists and inventors, showing that with hard work, passion, and determination, it is possible to achieve great things, no matter what obstacles may stand in your way.
Jang Youngsil truly was one of Asia’s greatest scientists, a visionary whose legacy continues to inspire and influence people around the world. As a matter of fact, there was a South Korean TV series produced in honor of him, titled ‘Jang Young-sil: The Greatest Scientist Of Joseon.’ It aired in 2016 and consisted of 24 episodes. The series portrays Jang’s life story and his achievements as a scientist and inventor during the Joseon Dynasty.
In Seoul, the capital city of South Korea, there is a park named after him. The Jang Youngsil Science Park is located in the Gwangjin District and was established in 2013 to honor Jang’s scientific achievements and contributions to the field of engineering.
What’s Even More? UNESCO Heritage Sites
In addition, there is also a street named after Jang Youngsil in Changwon City, South Korea, called Jang Youngsil-ro. As of now, there is no specific commemorative day or holiday in honor of Jang Youngsil.
However, he is celebrated and remembered in South Korea through various events, exhibitions, and initiatives that highlight his contributions to science and technology. The Korean government has also designated several historical sites associated with Jang Youngsil as official cultural heritage sites and installed commemorative plaques at these locations.
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Written by: Dorothy Efua Dadzie, Mon, Apr 10, 2023.