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Gunpowder is a solid explosive mixture consisting of numerous components capable of burning in anoxic conditions and releasing gaseous products. It is used for throwing solid military objects of various sizes and weights. Due to the fact that the combustion of gunpowder is carried out in parallel layers, the reaction taking place inside the substance gives the process of gas formation greater stability, including at high external pressure. There are two types of powder - smokeless (nitrocellulose) and blended (including smoky). Nitrocellulose propellants are divided into pyroxylinic, ballistic and cordite propellants.
Gunpowder is an explosive. This is a traditional rather than an actual concept of gunpowder. Gunpowder can become an explosive blasting agent if stored incorrectly. In all other cases, gunpowder, of course, does not explode, but only releases gases necessary, for example, for a shot.
Gunpowder is universal in application. Pyroxylin powder is used in small arms and artillery weapons, ballistic powders are used as charges for rocket engines, artillery guns and mortar charges, black powder is suitable for fuses, as igniters for lighting and incendiary projectiles and even for blasting operations (mine powder).
Gunpowder causes barrel corrosion. The most harmful in this regard is black powder, which emits sulfuric and sulfurous acid during combustion. Until the end of the 19th century, this type of gunpowder was used in firearms, now its use is limited to conventional fireworks.
We owe the invention of gunpowder to the Chinese. It is believed that they, and even the Indians, knew gunpowder fifteen hundred years before the birth of Christ. The main component of gunpowder, saltpeter, was always in sufficient quantities in ancient China, it was often used instead of salt, and it is quite natural that Chinese alchemists could not ignore the study of the substance lying on the surface (in the literal sense of the word). Combining it with sulfur and charcoal, oriental craftsmen obtained a strange substance that, in the process of combustion, produced soft cotton and left a dense trail of white smoke. This was gunpowder, the explosive properties of which were discovered a little later and were used by Chinese pyrotechnics for entertainment and signal purposes, and later for military arson and shooting. From China, the secret of making gunpowder migrated to the Arabs, from whom it came to Byzantium, and then to the rest of Europe.
Gunpowder was invented by a medieval monk. According to legend, in 1320, a Franciscan monk, Berthold Schwarz (originally from Freiburg), while doing alchemy, accidentally made a mixture of saltpeter, coal and sulfur, which miraculously ended up inside a metal mortar covered with stone. A spark that flew out of the hearth, hitting the mortar, with a roar that shook the vaults of the cell, marked the opening of gunpowder. However, as mentioned above, this is just a beautiful legend, like the monk Berthold himself, who most likely never existed in history.
Gunpowder was invented by the scientist Roger Bacon. For a long time, there was an opinion that Bacon was studying gunpowder and the processes of its combustion and explosion, after which he left the formula of this extraordinary substance to mankind. In fact, this is not so, although it was Bacon who owned the first mention of gunpowder in European scientific sources.
At one time, gunpowder was made directly on the battlefield. This was due to the fact that the gunpowder under inappropriate conditions damped too quickly and became unusable. In addition, this technology prevented the danger of explosion of the substance during its transportation.
The transition from powder to grain powder served as an impetus for the development of small arms. The first guns resembled cannons, which by that time were already quite actively used on the battlefields. Differing from smaller cannons, such guns fired on the same principle as their bulky sisters: a wick had to be brought to the firing hole of the gun, after which a shot was fired.
Gunpowder was very expensive several centuries ago. In the 16th century, one cannon shot cost the royal treasury five thalers (for example, an army infantryman received this amount per month).
In modern times, the production of gunpowder was controlled by European governments. Gunpowder was so important to Europe that royal dynasties took control of its production. But only a strong centralized power could control such an important military facility, which in turn led to the formation and strengthening of a number of major European states. Interestingly, the Bourbon dynasty, for example, regulated the production of gunpowder up to the level of a single village, and in 1601 it even declared the right to manufacture gunpowder sacred, such as the right to mint a coin depicting the reigning king.
Gunpowder was considered a hellish invention. Gunpowder correlated with hell and Lodovico Ariosto, calling it in his poems "infernal creation", and John Milton, making in his "Paradise Lost" the creator of gunpowder the Devil himself. Clerics, and not too enlightened people, also agreed with the poets - the smell of sulfur (one of the components of gunpowder) was too well correlated with the hellish vapors of the underworld.
Gunpowder got its Russian name because of its appearance. Initially (up to the 16th century) in Russia they shot with gunpowder, which looked like black dust. "Dust" in the ancient Russian language was designated as "dust" or "gunpowder" (full-voiced version of "dust").
Gunpowder is used as rocket fuel. More precisely, mixed propellants, which differ from all others in a number of parameters: for example, specific thrust, a large range of regulation of the burning rate, and also not a strong dependence of the burning rate on such physical parameters as temperature and pressure.