What is a tin plague?
Already in the IV millennium BC humanitylearned about the existence of tin in nature. At all times, this metal was very expensive because of its inaccessibility. In this connection, references to it are rarely found in ancient Greek and Roman written sources.
Tin with copper acts as oneof the components of tin bronze. It was invented in the middle or the end of the III millennium BC. Since bronze was considered in ancient times the most durable of all alloys known to man, tin was regarded as a strategic metal. This attitude to him persisted for more than 2 thousand years.
Place of Birth
The largest basins are located inSoutheast Asia and China. Quite extensive deposits were also found in Australia and South America (in Peru, Brazil, Bolivia). In Russia, the fields are located in the Khabarovsk Territory, in Solnechny District (Sobolinoye and Festivalnoye), Verkhnebureinsky District (Pravoormyskoe). In addition, deposits in the Chukotka Autonomous District have been discovered. Here are the Pyrkakai Stockwork, the village / Valkumey mine, Iultin. Their development was closed in the 90s. Tin deposits are also found in Primorsky Krai, in the Kavalerovo District, in Yakutia (Deputatsky) and other regions.
The death of the expedition to the South Pole
In 1910 Captain R. Scott - a polar explorer from England - organized an expedition. Its goal was the South Pole. At that time the person was not yet in this territory. The expedition took many months. The travelers walked along the vast expanses of the Arctic continent. On the way, they left small warehouses with food and kerosene. By the beginning of 1912, the expedition reached the pole. However, to the great disappointment of the travelers, they found there a note in which it was said that Rual Amundsen visited here a month earlier. However, this was not the main trouble. On the way back in the first warehouse, Scott's team found that the containers in which the kerosene was were empty. Frozen, tired people could neither keep warm nor cook their food. Having reached with great difficulty until the next warehouse, they found that the canisters were empty. Not having more strength to resist the cold, all members of the expedition died.
At the end of the nineteenth century, from Holland toRussia went to the train. There were tin bars in it. In Moscow, the cars were opened. Instead of the bars, the recipients saw an unsuitable gray powder. Around the same time an expedition was sent to Siberia. She was well-equipped. The organizers of the expedition provided many details so that severe frosts would not prevent the journey. However, one mistake was still made. The travelers took with them a dish of tin. Soon, at the first frosts, it crumbled into powder. The travelers were forced to cut out the dishes from the tree. In the beginning of XX century in St. Petersburg in one of the warehouses there was a scandal. During the audit, it was discovered that buttons disappeared on all uniforms. Instead, only gray powder was in the boxes. He was sent to the laboratory. According to the conclusion of the researchers, the metal was struck by the tin plague. According to some historians, one of the circumstances that affected the defeat of the French army in the winter of 1812 could be the disappearance of buttons from the uniforms of soldiers.
Attempts to explain the phenomenon
In all the cases described above, there was aa phenomenon like a tin plague. What it is? In 1868, Academician Fritsche presented a report at a meeting of the Petersburg Academy. In it, he told about how in the train was found a powder instead of tin bars, as the buttons in the military warehouse were scattered. After his appearance in the Academy, a huge number of similar reports began to arrive. They all came from all over Europe, and some from North America. It is worth saying that in the Middle Ages ignorant churchmen believed that the tin plague is the impact on the metal of the dark forces that witches cause. A lot of innocent women were burned at the stake. But with the rapid development of science, the absurdity of these statements became more and more obvious. Nevertheless, it was not possible for scientists to explain how the tin plague arises, what it is, for a very long time. Studies intensified after the death of Scott's team. The fact is that the canisters in which the kerosene was stored were sealed with tin. The metal turned into a powder, and the liquid flowed out.
Structure of metal
Only after using X-ray analysisscientists were able to explain how the tin plague arises. This phenomenon is due to the specific structure of the metal. X-ray analysis allowed to look inside the objects, to study their crystal structure. As a result, a scientific explanation of the phenomenon was formulated. The researchers found that any metal can have different crystalline forms. The most stable modification at normal (room) or elevated temperature is tin. This metal is ductile and ductile. If the temperature drops below 13 ° C, the crystal lattice begins to rebuild. In this case, the atoms are located in space at a greater distance. A new modification of the metal is formed-gray tin. It loses its original properties. In fact, the metal ceases to be such and becomes a semiconductor. Internal stresses appear on the contact areas of different crystal lattices. They lead to structural cracking. As a result, the metal crumbles into powder. So there is a tin plague.
It should be said that the tin plague, whose photois presented in the article, spreads quite quickly (almost like an epidemic in humans). The transition of one modification to another the sooner, the lower the ambient temperature. Its maximum reaches the conversion rate at -33 degrees. That's why frosts so quickly dealt with all products. In this case, the tin plague passes from the "sick" objects to the "healthy" ones. This phenomenon killed many valuable collections of soldiers. For example, dozens of figures turned into powder in the archives of the museum of Suvorov in St. Petersburg. This was due to the fact that one winter in the basement burst batteries.
"Medicine" of the plague
Scientists have long been looking for a way to prevent"disease" of metal. The way out of the situation was found by the British guild of producers. They created a new alloy. Metals were added to the tin, stabilizing its unstable properties. The new alloy was called "puter". It includes 95% tin, 2% copper and 5% antimony. Pewter is used in the manufacture of jewelry, household items, dishes, etc. It is worth saying that everyone knows the America's Cup, as well as the Oscar statuettes are made of a pewter, and then covered with silver and gold plating. So they are not afraid of any tin plague.