Fire has been an integral part of human civilization since the very beginning of our history. On the one hand, it gives us warmth and light. On the other hand, fires can rage uncontrollably and destroy everything in their path. But for all its destructive power, fire can surprise us with its many wonders and riddles. Here are the top 10 amazing facts about fire and fires that will fuel the flame of your mind.
10. Flamethrowers were invented in ancient times by Greek fire
During the reign of the Byzantine Emperor Constantine IV (circa 668-685 AD), the inventor Kallinikos from the Syrian city of Heliopolis developed what eventually became known as “Greek fire”. Initially, it was used in naval combat to burn enemy ships from a distance of 25-30 meters. At the same time, the mixture continued to burn even on the surface of the water. The weapon was a copper pipe through which a flammable mixture was spewed. Bellows (as in a forge) or compressed air were used to push it out. Then it began to be used on land in the form of portable hand-held devices that could be used both during the siege of the fortress and for its protection. But the “Greek fire” is not the only example of the use of flammable mixtures in the conduct of hostilities. Already in the 1st century BC, fire mixtures were used in the Chinese army. Greek soldiers at the Battle of Delia in 424 BC. e. released from a hollow log an incendiary mixture consisting of oil, crude oil and sulfur. It may have included other substances. The prototype of the “Greek fire” was also used in 190 BC. E., during the defense of the island of Rhodes. As you can see, modern flamethrowers had a lot of “relatives”, albeit less convenient from the point of view of use.
9. Forest fires create Pyro-cumulus cloud weather
Uncontrolled forest fires can stretch over thousands and even millions of hectares. Thus, by the end of July 2019, the total area of forest fires in Siberia amounted to 1.13 million hectares in Yakutia and 1.56 million hectares in other regions. When fires reach such colossal proportions, they begin to affect the atmosphere around them. When the air heated by the fire rises high enough, it cools down. Water droplets condense inside it, creating clouds and possibly even thunderstorms. The cloud created by a forest fire is called a pyro-cumulus cloud, and the “firestorm cloud” formed in this way is called a pyro-cumulus-rain cloud. Fire-induced storms can benefit firefighting efforts, but they can also hinder the same attempts by causing strong winds that fan fires even more. Sometimes these strong winds can even serve as the basis for tornadoes, which happened in the 1978 California fire.
8. The deadliest fire went relatively unnoticed
The Great Chicago Fire, 1871 The Great Chicago Fire, which raged from October 8-10, 1871, attracted increased media attention both in the United States and in other countries, and stimulated significant economic growth in Chicago during the recovery. The whole country helped the city with food, money and basic necessities. Ironically, the Great Chicago Fire was small compared to its older brother On the same day, October 8, a steppe fire began in drought-affected agricultural lands of Wisconsin, which reached almost 1.2 million acres. It became known as the Peshtigo Fire, after the city that was completely destroyed by fire. The Peshtigo fire has killed between 1,200 and 1,500 people, according to various estimates, which is at least four times more than the death toll from the Chicago fire.
7. Fire as art
How would you feel about the idea of using fire instead of paint when creating a painting? But the Canadian artist Steven Spazuk succeeded. Okay, we made a little mistake, he uses not the flame itself, but the soot from it to put soot on a white canvas. “The flame always reacts to the displacement of air, so I can’t control it. However, I can direct the flame of my lighter to create more or less the shape I want to create. Sometimes I just let the flame do the work and create these magical shapes,” says Steven. Agree, these paintings look spectacular.
6. Fire is the center of Zoroastrian worship
Zoroastrianism In the world there are about 100,000-200,000 people professing Zoroastrianism (one of the oldest religions in the world). For them, fire (as well as the light of the sun) as a source of light is sacred, since light is a visible image of the presence of the deity in our world. In Zoroastrianism, five types of fire are present throughout creation. They can be found in inanimate matter, living bodies, plants, clouds and flames, and are remnants of the original fire that Zoroastrians believe created the universe. During prayer, Zoroastrians bow before the light source. It can be the sun, a bonfire, an oil lantern, or even one of the eternal lights stored in places of worship (which are called temples of fire).
5. The color of the flame is not always orange
Flame colors The most common controlled fires, such as bonfires, burn at a temperature of 590-1200 degrees Celsius. At this temperature, a certain amount of carbon from the combustible fuel does not burn. Carbon particles are mixed with fire and illuminated by its light, which gives the fire a yellow or orange glow. But everything changes when the temperature of the fire increases. At a temperature of 1260-1650 degrees Celsius, the flame absorbs all carbon. Without “surviving” carbon particles that could change color, the fire burns with a bright blue light. However, carbon is not the only type of chemical or compound that can cause a fire. If a fuel source with a small amount of copper is burned, its particles fall into the fire and give it a green light, just as carbon particles are orange. Lithium chloride creates a pink flame, strontium chloride is red, and potassium chloride is purple.
4. How Ice can cause Fire
Fire and Ice Fire and ice are usually considered opposites – and for good reason. In terms of temperature, few things can exist as far apart as fire and ice, but enterprising people have developed ways to use one to create the other. The method requires the use of a knife to cut a relatively round piece of ice. Then this circle is additionally polished using the heat of human hands. In the end, it turns out an icy likeness of a magnifying glass. It can be used to focus sunlight into a narrow beam that heats dry tinder and will lead to the appearance of fire. However, all these manipulations will take a lot of time and effort.
3. The eucalyptus tree is “friendly” with fire Gasoline trees – eucalyptus
Annually in the world, an average of 67,000 forest fires rage, and they destroy about seven million acres of land. Entire ecosystems can be destroyed in a fire, including dense forests. However, there is one tree that actively helps the fire. And his name is a eucalyptus tree growing mainly in New Zealand, Australia and Tasmania. Its fallen leaves form a perfect flammable blanket, and the bark peels off in long strips that reach the ground. This allows the fire to rise to the branches. The oil of the eucalyptus tree, known for its fragrant smell, is also highly flammable, which is why eucalyptus is nicknamed “gasoline trees”. And eucalyptus seeds grow quickly in ash-rich soil after a fire.
2. Fire in space with microgravity burns in the form of a sphere Flame in microgravity
On Earth with constant gravity candle flame turns into the form of a tear. Lighter and hotter air rises and pulls colder air behind it, which causes the flame to form its signature shape. However, in microgravity conditions on the International Space Station, the air heated by the candle flame does not rise, but remains stationary. Instead of forming a teardrop shape, the flame turns into a sphere and burns bright blue. The unique properties of microgravity also allow fires to burn at much lower temperatures and for much longer than on Earth.
1. Fire is used as a medicine Fire in Chinese medicine
Here is another interesting fact about fire: it is successfully used in modern Chinese medicine. A procedure called “fire therapy” is used to treat many chronic diseases. It is based on the Chinese philosophy, which states that good health is the result of a balance between the “hot” and “cold” elements present in the human body. Fire therapy involves the use of herbal paste, an alcohol-soaked towel and a lighter to ignite a controlled fire at key points of the human body. At the moment, there is no empirical data confirming that “fire therapy” is really good for health. Unless there’s plenty of adrenaline after it.