Morceau de papier, komad papira, paper zatia, Парче хартия, tros de paper, kousek papíru.  Are you getting closer to figuring out what all of these words mean?  We shall answer the question for you- piece of paper.  Simple, right?  Well, the history of a single sheet of paper is impressive and dates back thousands of years.  In the past we have blogged about Guggenheim and the press and its significance historically.  Regretfully, we left paper out of the mix.  Today we are righting that wrong.  Paper, this one’s for you. 

Since the dawn of time people have yearned for ways to communicate and express creativity.  In the earliest of days this was done on stones and cave walls, papyrus, amate, parchment, scrolls, etc.  Then came paper.  “The first paper-making process was documented in China during the Eastern Han period (25–220 CE), traditionally attributed to the court official Cai Lun. During the 8th century, Chinese paper-making spread to the Islamic world, where pulp mills and paper mills were used for paper-making and money making. By the 11th century, paper-making was brought to Europe. By the 13th century, paper-making was refined with paper mills utilizing waterwheels in Spain. Later European improvements to the paper-making process came in the 19th century with the invention of wood-based papers.” (Wikipedia) Interestingly, the reason wood was even considered as a possible source of paper is due to a curious and observant biologist named Ferchault De Reaumur.  Reaumur noticed that wasps chewed wood and used it to create paper nests.  He then wondered why humans couldn’t chew up their own wood and spit out paper.  Thanks to Reaumur, this technique was perfected and it was all downhill from there. 

The creation of wood-based paper was significant for a variety of reasons.  It allows us to express ourselves artistically, communicate with others, and keep ourselves busy during down-time.  For more on that last topic, check out our blog on paper fun by clicking HERE.  Similar to most things that have been invented throughout history, paper has undergone a variety of changes.  In the early days of the industry, paper was a product of recycling.  Prior to the mid 1800’s, linens and rags were saved and then turned into paper. conservatree.com explains the evolution of paper in stating, “Throughout the centuries, the practice of paper-making has evolved again and again in response to economic growth, historical influences, available raw materials, and the social issues of the day. As social needs have changed over the years, the composition of paper has also changed and has in turn fueled powerful social changes and development. In fact, some argue that the social, technical and economic progress of nations is inextricably linked to the production and use of paper.” (http://www.conservatree.org/learn/Papermaking/History.shtml).  And If you think that paper has stopped evolving, think again.  

Paper is a product that, as you can see, has undergone seemingly endless amounts of changes. It’s invention has led to further evolutionary advancements.  Without cardboard created from paper, where would Amazon be today?  Recycled paper alone helps to create toilet paper, paper board, cardboard, greeting cards, printer and copier paper, napkins, paper towels, and the list goes on and on.  Lastly, take a look at these new innovations made to paper courtesy of https://www.twosides.info/UK/new-innovations-in-paper/.  

Bacteria-resistant paper

Sappi in North America have been developing a paper that inhibits the growth of bacteria, which would be a huge advantage in any medical setting, from hospital walls to the inside of an ambulance.

Wi-Fi-blocking wallpaper

One of the most common ways for hackers to get into your devices and online accounts is through your Wi-Fi network, so scientists in France have created a wallpaper that can keep your Wi-Fi signal inside your home. Called Metapaper, the paper selectively filters electromagnetic waves, allowing through cellphone signals while preventing your Wi-Fi network from leaving the home.

Portable Zika test

Carried by mosquitoes, the Zika virus is threatening to become a worldwide epidemic, with areas of South America particularly hard hit. The virus can cause birth defects if contracted by a pregnant woman, so early detection is vital to minimise any harmful effects. A team at Harvard University have recently developed a system of freeze-dried synthetic gene circuits embedded within paper discs that change colour when exposed to a blood sample containing the Zika virus.