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Discovery Magazine 6/1/2009

Pounded to a Pulp

We live in a time when writing notes is very easy to do. If you want to write someone, all you have to do is take a piece of paper from a notebook or pad and write your note with a pen, pencil, or marker. But sending a note has not always been so easy. In fact, ancient men and women once used clay, wood, or stone to write their notes. People who used clay, stone, and wood had some challenges. Clay can break easily, stone can be very heavy, and wood can be difficult to write on. For these reasons and others, people began to look for better ways to send notes.

In the land of Egypt, around the banks of the Nile River, a hollow reed named papyrus grows. Ancient Egyptians would harvest the plant, slit it down the middle, and roll it out flat. After gluing many of the reeds together, the workers would take a rock and smooth the surface of the papyrus so that it could be used just like paper we write on today. Papyrus was light, easy to write on, and did not break if it was dropped. In fact, many of the books of the Bible were most likely first written on papyrus.

Today, however, there would not be enough papyrus to supply writing materials all over the world. So where does most of our paper come from? It comes from trees! Trees are made of millions of tiny fibers. These fibers are separated by cutting the trees into small chips and putting those chips in water and chemicals to make pulp. The wood pulp has a very wet, soupy texture. It is sprayed onto a wire mesh where the water begins to drain from the pulp. During this time, the tiny wood fibers begin to bond together in thin layers. The half-dried pulp then goes through hot, heavy rollers that squeeze the rest of the water out and dry the pulp into paper.

Isn’t it wonderful that God gave humans the knowledge and ability to make paper and supplied us with enough trees to have all the paper we need? Just think, this issue of Discovery is printed on paper made from God’s trees. 



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