Rus Articles Journal

What beacons happen?

Since the childhood are familiar to many boys books about voyages with fascinating stories; about brave seafarers who after the postponed storm and infinite wanderings on sea open spaces, emaciated and hungry were eager to set foot on land.

But voyages always were unpredictable. Often happened so that the ship went off-course, and the iznemozhenny and lost belief seamen did not hope to see the earth any more as suddenly unexpectedly in the distance there were saving fires which helped to find a way and it is safe to moor to the coast.

At the beginning of navigation when it was not enough beacons, and besides they were primitive, many vessels perished. It happened to many ships it was possible to cross successfully the ocean, to transfer terrible storm, however in attempt to enter into port they were wrecked. The last miles were the most dangerous part of swimming and when the crew already saw in the distance the desired earth, there came the tragic outcome.

According to Alan Stephenson, the researcher of history of beacons, from 1793 to 1833 the annual number of ship-wrecks at coast of Great Britain increased with 550 to 800. More beacons were required, it was necessary to improve their designs.

In some countries, including England and the United States, one more danger to seafarers constituted proklinatel of the moon - pirates who lit false fires, directing the ships to rocks, only for the purpose of a robbery. They killed those who survived as witnesses were not necessary to them. However when the moon brightly shone, robbery was not successful. From here they also received the name proklinatel of the moon . But over time there were more beacons, their designs improved, and it deprived of robbers and murderers of their trade . *

Beacons from antiquity

the First beacons served up to now a huge fire which were made on the high coast. Later these fires began to arrange in pyramids from stones and iron cages. Maintenance of fire in such primitive beacons was labor-consuming and if they died away, then it led to tragic consequences.

The most ancient written mention of such beacons can be found in the epic poem of Homer Illiada (The IX-VIII vv BC), telling about Trojan war (1260) : Hardly only the sun will be gone, everywhere fires light alarm .

The best-known beacon is considered Alexandria. According to archeological excavations on the island Faros, in the city of Alexandria, here in 300 BC at an entrance to harbor the first was constructed real a beacon - Alexandria Faros . It was the majestic construction from a stone reaching height of 117 meters (according to other data - 133 m). The beacon was ranked as Seven Wonders of the world and existed approximately 1600.

The Farossky beacon consisted of three marble towers standing on the basis from massive stone blocks. The first - the lower tower was rectangular, in it there were rooms in which there lived workers and soldiers. Over this tower the smaller, octagonal tower with the spiral ramp conducting in the top tower settled down. The top tower a form reminded the cylinder in which fire helping the ships to reach safely a bay burned. On top of a tower there was Zeus Christ Redeemer`s statue.

Maintenance of a flame on such huge beacon required a large amount of fuel. Burned down generally a tree which was delivered on a spiral ramp on the carts harnessed by horses or mules. Behind a flame there were bronze plates sending light to the sea. It was possible to see light of this beacon at distance to 50 km. By 12th century AD. The Alexandria bay was so filled with silt that the ships could not use it any more. The beacon fell into decay. The bronze plates serving as mirrors probably melted on coins. And in the 14th century the beacon was destroyed by an earthquake. Several years later Muslims used its fragments to construct a military fort. The fort subsequently more than once was reconstructed and still stands still the first-ever beacon . **

During existence of the Roman Empire about 30 beacons, from the Black Sea to Atlantic were constructed. Portus was one of such beacons - it was constructed at the emperor Traian in the mouth of Tiber that the Roman ships could bring quietly grain from Alexandria. But after decline of the empire also trade began to decline, and, as a result, beacons as superfluous plunged into darkness. And after a while many of them became useless. Revival of beacons began approximately at the beginning of the 11th century with a new wave of development of trade and search of new lands. The well-known beacon of that period was Genoa lanterna . Information occurs in historical chronicles that in 1449 Antonio Kolumbo, the uncle of the seafarer Christopher Columbus was an inspector on this beacon.

In 1699 a certain Henri Uinstanli is the owner of the ships, constructed the first beacon in the high sea. He constructed it of a tree, on rocks Eddiston near Plymouth in England. Uinstanli very much was proud of the achievement. In the documentary video movie Night guards it is told that when he caught fish from the beacon, liked to repeat: And well - the sea, leap and test a product of my hands! ( Guardians of the Night ). Once in 1703 the sea accepted this call, and neither from Uinstanli, nor from his beacon there is no trace left also.

In honor of friendship between the people of the United States and France in New - York harbor the Statue of Liberty 93 meters high was erected. On October 28, 1886, under a cannonade roar (21 gun shots!) and in the presence of the president Grover Cleveland, opening of the best-known monument of North America took place. The statue at that time served as a navigation reference point. Three inspectors within 16 years in turn supported fire in its torch. The poem at an entrance to the building of a pedestal says: In her hand the beacon burns: Welcome to all countries! .

As the Very first beacon in the territory of Russia it is considered to be a beacon Dagerortsky (Kyp) constructed in 1531. The wave of construction of beacons in Russia is connected with development of fleet at Peter I . ***

From fires to xenon pulse lamps

Gradually, with development of technical means, instead of a tree for maintenance of fire in beacons coal, candles (sometimes even in candelabrums), and began to use oil a little later. For focusing of light tried to establish reflectors, but on them usually accumulated a lot of soot. In 1782 the Swiss scientist Aime Argand especially for beacons thought up an oil lamp in which air came to a flame through the middle of a trubkoobrazny svetilna and expired through lamp glass. As soot did not accumulate now, parabolic reflectors which strengthened light approximately by 350 times began to be applied widely.

The following big step was the invention of the French physicist Augustin Jean Fresnel in 1815 of the most powerful lens which was ever used in beacons, it allowed to increase luminous intensity to 80000 candles - that is approximately equal to luminous intensity of a headlight of the modern car, - at the same time the burning match was a light source only! Before the best system of mirrors together with an argandovy lamp which remained popular more than 100 years created luminous intensity, equal about 20 000 candles.

In 1901 torches in which oil moved under pressure were invented, and soon the frenelevsky system made up to one million candles. Approximately at the same time gas acetylene began to be used that was a big incitement to development of automation of beacons and improvement of their work. The big role in it was played by the Swedish scientist Niels Gustave Dalen who in 1912 was conferred the Nobel Prize in the field of physics for the invention automatic solar " valve; - devices for automatic ignition and clearing of an acetylene flame depending on quantity of a sunlight.

In 1920 - x years the great popularity was won by electric glow lamps which till this day remain the main means of lighting. In combination with a bulb only in 250 watts Fresnel`s lens can make several hundreds of thousands of candles. Now the most powerful beacon in the world which is in France pierces the night sky with a dazzling beam in 500 million candles.

One of the last inventions - a xenon pulse lamp. It makes bright flash, lasting million fractions of a second. Advantage of such short and intensive light impulse that it is accurately distinguishable against other light sources.

Floating beacons

Still in the ancient time, in places where conditions did not allow to build towers, used floating beacons, or vessels with the mayachny equipment. As well as at traditional beacons of tower type, at floating beacons the long and fascinating history. The Roman galley which is started up in swimming at the time of Julius Caesar was the first of them. The brazier which was settling down highly on a mast with the heated coals lit the night sky. The only inconvenience was the fact that hot ashes poured on sweaty backs of the oarsmen chained to benches. But to slaves then there was a special relation and therefore was to nobody before this business.

The first modern floating beacon was floated in 1732 in the mouth of the Thames, near London. Soon their number began to increase. But in recent years floating beacons gave way to automatic beacons and beacons - the metal designs reminding platforms with derricks.

Destiny of beacons today

Now the profession of inspectors of beacons consigned to the past. Radio and echolocators, and also devices of satellite navigation succeeded also beacons so many of them became just monuments, but still attracting with the beauty and originality, they continue to inspire photographers, artists and poets. Now old beacons are in many countries of the world under protection of the state as unique monuments which bear in themselves centuries-old history of development of navigation and architecture.

Some beacons turned into the museums and became objects of pilgrimage of tourists. In such museums it is possible not only to contemplate history personally, but it is even possible and to live to feel the lighthouse keeper.

As it is sad for many romantics and fans of voyages, now these beautiful constructions replace with cheaper devices: beacons and aero beacons. And even where the operating beacons still remained, there is no need any more in inspectors as all processes are automated, and only occasionally there come experts for carrying out checkup. Alas, progress costs are that.


1. * Big British Encyclopedia.

2. ** Wonders of the world . wonderland. com. ru/page - 313. html

3. *** Wikipedia. Beacons .

4. Heinz Lindenberg Evolution of beacons .

5. O. Fresnel. The chosen works on optics. (From the " series; Classics of natural sciences . 1955)

6. Physics. Section " Optics;