Chemistry and death
Not only chemists know that poison the person — not worth anything. For many centuries, the opponents of exterminating his enemies with a variety of substances mixed into food or drink. However, they were anything: kings and Caesar, ministers and mistresses, spies, and even relatives. However, in the XX century was the beginning of the mass persecution of people. It happened in the war …
"In the evening the river Ypres by the German trenches rose yellowish-gray cloud that drifted fair wind to the positions of the allied forces. The French and British soldiers who occupied the defense, this gas has caused a painful coughing and choking. Following the cloud moved and the German infantry, easily broke through the defense, captured considerable spoils, "- said the military chronicler.
Once April 22, 1915 under the impact of the gas cloud, the soldiers tried to flee, but only a few have managed to avoid severe poisoning. Of the 15,000 soldiers who had been subjected to gas, 5,000 died that night. "
A month later, the same tragedy is played out on the Eastern front, near Warsaw action asphyxiating gases were about 9,000 officers and men, of which more than two thousand died in terrible agony the next day.
Urgently appealed to the scientists, in Petrograd in the Central Laboratory of the Ministry of Finance worked Nikolay Zelinsky — outstanding chemist, known for his work in, above all, clear vodka, as one of the main components of the "joy of Rus" and … budget revenues. This is his formula: "One hundred pounds of good charcoal can purify 3000 buckets of alcohol."
The laboratory was well equipped, and therefore, in addition to their "tavern activities," Zielinski turned serious research on oil, catalysis and protein chemistry. Repose he found in teaching at the Polytechnic Institute, where he got a job at the Department of Commodity. It not been for the war, and then the revolution, the name Zelinsky today would know only a few specialists in the history of chemistry.
And then he suddenly charged quickly develop new means of protection from the terrible weapons of mass destruction.
The first acquaintance with chemical agents Zelinsky happened twenty years before the tragic events in Ypres. In 1885, a young scholar Department of Chemistry University of Novorossiysk ND Zelinsky was sent to a two-year overseas training in Göttingen to Professor Meyer. There's a scientist assigned to work on the synthesis of the previously unknown organic compounds.
On the Saturday night the only Zelinsky trainees stayed in the lab. When the components of experience were introduced into the flask, contrary to expectations, that a rapid chemical reaction. Above the bulb appeared yellowish haze and crawled around the room a strange odor, resembling the smell of mustard. Zelinsky leaned over the bulb and suddenly engulfed by his choking, unconscious. Fortunately for him, the servant of the laboratory was still on the job and assess the situation, he pulled out of the lab Zelinsky, slammed the door, and barely having to call for help, he lost consciousness.
A doctor who examined the victim stated severe poisoning, respiratory failure and severe burns of hands. So discoverer dihlordietilsulfida, later called mustard — from the first use in the war, was about to become his first victim.
After the first reports of the use of poisonous gases Zelinsky and members of his laboratory, for no apparent instructions from above, began to seek funds protect soldiers from the effects of chemical weapons.
In addition to patriotic feelings to lead them the knowledge that surgical masks, made by nuns and schoolgirls, even impregnated with different chemical compositions, could not serve in any way protected.
Not only that they did not act in a dry form, but they also have the electoral action: the mask, which protected from the effects of chlorine, was powerless, for example, against hydrocyanic acid. But they, as a chemist, were known dozens of other toxic substances that can be used for a gas attack!
In other words, you had a substance having high absorption capacity, and the indifference to the chemical nature of the gas. What was needed was a universal absorber.
Those who remember history, advised Zelensky method applied 30 years ago, in 1789, St. Petersburg chemist Tobias Lowitz proposed use charcoal to clean vodka of fusel oils. He thought about it and decided that if denaturing agents were very different nature, but almost all of them, without exception, were absorbed by the charcoal, the charcoal, and should be the substance that will save men from the gases.
Work has begun to boil, having received new impetus all laboratory staff went black from head to foot with coal dust. Tested the ability of different types of coal absorb gases, looking for ways to increase the absorptive capacity — the method of activation. Calcined coal, sorted, crushed, sifted, weighed, poisoned and weighed again.
The first tests of the laboratory staff had originally: a room filled with sulfur dioxide, cautiously entered Zielinski, and his colleagues, Stepanov and garden, holding the mouth and nose with a handkerchief calcined birch charcoal. The test was over in thirty-two minutes: three subjects out of a makeshift gas chamber alive, shaking of handkerchiefs coal.
Zielinski immediately sent the results of their research in the health and emergency management part and made the first public announcement about their experiences at a meeting of sanitary department of the Russian Technical Society. The report was approved, but more improvements required: how much coal will be required to protect each person, what is the design of the mask. Answers to these questions provide a chemical laboratory could not.
Aggressive action on the front did not stop. After another gas attack killed many soldiers and officers, the surviving useless masks hung on the trees. Unsuitability masks became apparent. Competition was announced: Page Corps, various departments of the city and even monasteries sent their projects and masks for approbation. Model was first approved by the Mountain Rescue mask mask, developed in the Mining Institute. Option was not the best, and it almost destroyed priceless invention Zelinsky: the subject was taken out of the trial chamber in an unconscious state. Further tests have been discontinued, although the cause of the failure was soon found: ill-fitting mask was leaking and close to the head.
The situation was saved Shaternikov professor. He went into the test chamber with combat concentration asphyxiating gases, where he spent more than 40 minutes while playing chess with another test, engineer Degtyarev, both wearing masks Shaternikova design with charcoal respirator Zelinsky.
Thus, the carbon filter has been rehabilitated, but until complete victory was far away. In June 1915 Zielinski met engineer plant "Triangle" MI Kummantom, who developed the original mask to mask. Thanks to their cooperation invention acquired a finished look: proof box with activated carbon as a sorbent vapor agents belonged Zelinsky, and the rubber mask, to which this case was fixed — Kummantu. In the future, a new mask is called: mask Zelinsky — Kummanta.
Device from the Prince
The final decision on the matter depended on the head office of the Prince of Oldenburg, which is contrary to common sense invention Zelinsky rejected just because of the alleged "undermined" the reputation of the latter: after the student riots in 1911 in Moscow, Zelinsky, along with other progressives professors had to submit his resignation and leave the department of Moscow State University, and later the capital. In the production model was launched by the Mining Institute, renamed the "Masks Prince of Oldenburg." However, at the front of the masks could not compete with the universal mask Zelinsky. Bid was blocked dispatches such as "At the front between Riga and Vilnius died a hero's death in the gas attack 16 000 soldiers. Soldiers were equipped with bad masks. Masks were three types of the Mining Institute."
After that, a special meeting of the defense agreed to withdraw all the masks except mask Zelinsky. In the summer of 1916 the army was 5,000,000 gas masks, and in the spring of 1917 in the combat units of the army had no other masks.
By the end of 1916 all the military units were supplied with these masks, and the loss of the Russian troops from gas attacks were worn only incidental.
Since then, for almost a century invention Zelinsky continues to bear their hard service.
Source: "Interesting newspaper. Riddles civilization" № 17 2012
Category: Mystery stories