The first security system, or rather the warning of a methane leak, in coal mines was not very high-tech, but it was extremely effective. They just kept canaries in the mines. If the bird died, it was a sign for everyone to leave the mine.
Coal mining developed, and the mines became deeper and deeper. This, in turn, posed new problems. Gas leaks have become a constant threat in coal mining. And with a lack of oxygen, miners could also die. Then the miners did not yet have special equipment that would monitor the level of various (including hazardous to humans) gases in the air. That is, it was impossible to determine when the oxygen level was falling dangerously.
But a solution to the problem was found. The miners began to take canaries underground with them. These birds are surprisingly sensitive to carbon monoxide. If the canary died, then the gas leak was on the face and the miners immediately rose to the surface.
A small bright yellow bird stood guard over the life of the miners. Due to their extremely sensitive metabolism, birds behave differently depending on the percentage of methane and carbon monoxide in the air. If the oxygen level was optimal, then the birds sang and chirped merrily. And if the canary fell silent and began to swing on the perches, and then fell dead, it always meant the same thing - the level of carbon monoxide rose dangerously. This helped prevent explosions and save lives.
In addition to canaries, some mines used mice, but birds reacted more clearly to even small amounts of carbon monoxide in the air. It is for this reason that the miners preferred to take canaries with them to the slaughter.
For centuries, British mining legislation mandated the keeping of canaries in mines for gas detection. The birds were used in this role until 1986, and the corresponding clause remained in the safety regulations for mining operations until 1995.
Many coal companies in the United States and the United Kingdom have specially bred canaries or bought discarded birds from pet stores. Mostly female canaries were used, because of the less beautiful singing they cost less. For the companies it was more profitable than providing the miners with expensive Devi lamps.
In addition to canary miners, rescuers who descended into emergency mines were often used. With their help, they discovered gaseous mines in order to redirect the air stream there. In this case, the birds did not necessarily die. Brought to fresh air, they came to life and were reused. Later, special safe cages were used. When gas was detected, they were hermetically closed, and oxygen was let in inside, which allowed the canary to survive.
Even today, there is still no device that reacts as subtly and quickly to the presence of gas as the body of a canary.
Time has passed. Small birds were replaced by high technologies. But we must remember the feat of the canaries, who for many decades died in coal mines, but saved a person's life.
Considering the fantastic sensitivity of living organisms to various chemical compounds, one can try not to simulate them, but directly, directly connect to electronic circuits. How not to recall a poem by N. Zabolotsky called "The Queen of the Flies":
Take a strange fly, Put a fly in a jar, Walk across the field with a can
Follow the signs.
If the fly makes a little noise -
Copper lies underfoot.
If it leads with a mustache -
Calls you to silver.
If he flaps his wing -
Zlata lump under your feet.
Medieval scholastics already knew about the high sensitivity of insects and even tried to use them in finding treasures or deposits of precious metals. It was the writings of one of them that inspired the poet N. Zabolotsky to create a poem. His name was Agrippa of Nettesheim (he lived at the beginning of the 16th century). There are so many legends about this strange person. To the extent that supposedly he could even summon the devil to him. He really searched for treasures and deposits of precious metals and conducted extraordinary alchemical experiments. It is possible that in his hands were the secrets of using "living devices". Agrippa knew that the ancient Hindus were searching for treasures with the help of some mysterious fly, he called her the queen of flies. Moreover, he himself apparently had such a fly and even left a recipe for how to handle it:“When you have one of these flies at your disposal, put it in a transparent box. Her room should be freshened twice a day and given her the plant on which she was caught.
She can live under such conditions for almost a month. To find out the direction of the hidden treasures in the depths, you need to have well-established weather. Then, taking the box with the fly, hit the road, constantly spying on and noticing its movements. If gems are hidden in the depths, you will notice a shudder in the legs and antennae. If you are over a place containing gold or silver, the fly flaps its wings, and the closer you get, the stronger its movements will be. In the event that there are base metals there - copper, iron, lead and others, the fly will walk calmly, but the faster, the closer they are to the surface.
N. Zabolotsky recalls that he heard similar curious legends in Russian villages.
Perhaps, from the descriptions of Agrippa, it is possible to determine the type of fly in question? With such a fly in hand, it is not difficult to verify the plausibility of the scholastic's experiments. Let there be little chances that the "treasure hunting device" will work. But suddenly … Agrippa writes that a mysterious fly the size of a large bumblebee likes to land on aquatic plants. Little information, but there is some thread in the hands. The whole difficulty is that flies and their relatives are 80,000 species. Apparently, Agrippa did not know anything about mimicry: there are, for example, butterflies that have taken the form of flies. Where is the guarantee that not one of them was kept by a medieval scientist.
Modern scientists began to study "living devices", their colossal sensitivity back in the 20s. The biologist NK Koltsov, already well-known at that time, even organized a laboratory of physico-chemical biology. Here is one of the experiments carried out in it. In a large 200-liter aquarium filled with water, single-celled suvoy creatures were placed. They can be seen through a microscope. They look like bells sitting on thin legs. When unfavorable factors affect the suvoyok, the legs quickly fold into springs, and the bell itself closes. Koltsov added only one drop of a weak solution with calcium ions to the vessel. After a while (it could always be calculated) the first ions reached the suvoyas. And their legs immediately curled up. This means that these creatures are capable of reacting to individual charged atoms of matter.
In scientific journals of that time, you can find a description of another experience of N. K. A gold ring is lowered into the jar of water where the frog sits. And after a while, her belly turns pink. The blood vessels expanded and began to show through the thin skin. And how much gold has dissolved in water during this time? An insignificant amount.
The pharmacologist N. P. Kravkov was also interested in studying the sensitivity of living things. In 1926, his work on the effect of drugs was posthumously awarded the Lenin Prize. In Kravkov's experiments, blood vessels were also an indicator, but not a frog, but a rabbit's ear. In the ear, cut off from the body of the animal (more precisely, into the blood vessels), the laboratory assistant injected saline. Having passed through the vascular system, the liquid flowed out through the open ends of the veins, and its drops fell on the pan of a very precise balance.
When a little adrenaline was added to the solution, the vessels narrowed, and the rate of drip flow decreased. The "living device" worked flawlessly. The most curious thing is that he signaled some substances even from a distance. As soon as the lead plate was brought to the ear, the effect was the same as with the administration of a solution with adrenaline.
Biologist A. L. Chizhevsky designed a supersensitive apparatus that warned of bursts of solar activity a week before their appearance. The main "detail" of the device was bacteria that could change their color. What they react to - to changes in electromagnetic fields or particles flying from the sun - has not yet been clarified.
Many experts are skeptical about the creation of "living" and "semi-living" devices. Of course, engineers do not doubt the high sensitivity of bacteria, flies, fish and frogs, they are worried about something else - whether it is possible to unequivocally determine that a living organism reacts to the substance under study. How many reactions do different plants and animals have to the impact of the external environment? The answer can be very blurry. And a physical device will always show the correct answer if it is serviceable and accurately calibrated.
This is an understandable doubt. Of course, the instrument must guarantee reproducibility of the results on repeated measurements. Biologists are aware of this and are already trying to overcome this difficulty. So, a conditioned reflex has been adopted.
For example, in fish a conditioned reflex is formed to separate molecules of impurity substances that have got into the water. When the investigated concentrations of substances enter the water, the fish can be taught to move away from the mesh through which the current is passed. And how to prove that the fish reacts to this particular substance, and not to any other stimulus? Erase the memory to this substance. Is it possible? Quite. It was found that if the crucian carp after training is administered the antibiotic puromycin, it will forget the reflex to this substance, although all other reflexes will remain.
Now the methods of recording biopotentials have reached such perfection, which one could only dream of in the 1920s. Now experimenters have learned to divert biocurrents both from nerve nuclei and nodes, and from individual cells. With the help of the thinnest platinum and gold electrodes, potentials can be removed from cell membranes and from nerve fibers. So it is not difficult to connect to a "living device" or its separate sensor, although this is a fine work performed under a microscope. Modern electrophysiologists manage to register a potential difference of the order of tenths of a millivolt.
At the service of biologists are already microscopic light guides, photoresistors and photocells, with which you can monitor the change in the color of bacteria and the shape of cells. And they can be used as separate units of "living" or "semi-living" devices.
Perhaps the use of electronic and living units will give a new generation of measuring equipment that can get rid of extraneous information and various interference. How many different filters have to be installed in the devices in order to isolate, for example, the desired substance, and this all complicates the analyzing devices and makes them more expensive. At the same time, living organisms are able to filter out unnecessary information with the help of their "sensors". Thus, the frog's eye, especially the retina, selects only the information necessary for the animal. Similar information processing mechanisms are found in analyzers of animals that occupy a different systematic position. For example, insects and spiders perfectly "understand" the readings of their senses. The organs of smell in a spider are not located on the head, but on the legs (pedipalps) and the tip of the abdomen. The spider detects a natural body of water at a great distance. But he does not find a can of distilled water, placed almost nearby. Apparently, spiders react to trace amounts of salts in the water.
They say that there are no comrades for taste and color. But you can't fool a single fly on saccharin. She will confidently distinguish it from sugar by touching the powder with her paws. It turns out that the spatial analysis of substances and their chemical composition is determined by the fly with just one touch of its paws. Let's try to imagine a biological device - we take the potentials from the fly's nerve cells with the help of electrodes, and after amplification we transfer it to an oscilloscope, on the screen of which a certain oscillogram will correspond to each substance. Having a set of curves obtained earlier from various substances, it is possible to investigate several substances in one minute.
Recently, a group of employees of the Department of Entomology, Faculty of Biology, Moscow State University proposed a way to record on an oscilloscope the signals coming from the taste bristles of a female squeaky mosquito. It turned out that any chemical compound corresponds to a strictly defined sequence of electrical impulses. And this is at a concentration in hundredths of a milligram in one liter of water! Scientists are looking for clues to deciphering waveforms. If the search is successful, it is hoped that an efficient rapid analysis tool will be created for chemical laboratories.
Science knows 600 species of animals and 400 species of plants that act as barometers, indicators of humidity and temperature, predictors of storms and storms.
Before the rain, freshwater crayfish crawl ashore, before the storm, sea crabs also behave. Before bad weather, flies and wasps fly into the windows of houses, bees sit in the hive and hum. If you don't see urticaria butterflies in the meadow, then a rain shower will begin in a few hours. Grasshoppers, with their intensified chirping, report good weather the next day.
An ordinary leech planted in a glass jar of water can become a real barometer. By good weather, she calmly lies at the bottom. Before bad weather it sticks to the glass, closer to the surface, sometimes even protrudes a little out of the water. Before a thunderstorm, she swims nervously.
People noticed that on the eve of earthquakes, snakes and lizards leave their holes, birds become restless, cows moo, goats and sheep bleat piteously and hysterically, deep-sea fish float to the surface. And they signal the danger, a few days before it. How do they do it? There is an assumption that the amount of underground gas radon increases before the earthquake. From great depths, it rises to the upper layers. Animals and plants sense this and react accordingly. In addition, strong electromagnetic oscillations occur in the earth's crust, to which representatives of the fauna are very sensitive.
Although man has invented many different devices, one should not forget about living barometers and thermometers. Take a close look at them, find out their habits, because they do not know failures and breakdowns.
Modern technologies make it possible to track the first slightest fluctuations of the earth's crust, its deformation, changes in the level of groundwater. All these are indirect signs that do not provide information about the time of the catastrophe. The exact time can be set 10-15 seconds before it starts. That can no longer help the timely evacuation of people from the danger zone.
But animals begin to feel the approach of a disaster much earlier, showing signs of anxiety, which intensify as an earthquake or tsunami approaches.
Animals, both wild and domestic, begin to behave strangely when they sense the approach of danger. Their fur stands on end, cats meow loudly, dogs howl and bite, rabbits run around in cages, cows moo fearfully. As the danger approaches, or being closer to its epicenter, animals make attempts to escape, precisely choosing safe places. Their actions are perfectly correct, as in a life safety textbook.
So cats go to open spaces, carrying kittens. Burrowing animals leave their burrows. When a tsunami threatens, animals climb up hills or move away from the shore at a safe distance. Before earthquakes, hippos go out on land, and before a tsunami they swim to a depth so that they are not thrown out by a giant wave.
In Thailand in 2004, a few hours before the tsunami, a whole herd of antelopes fled in panic from the coast to the nearby hills, elephants screamed, broke their chains and ran away on the hills. Flamingos left the lowlands, where they traditionally live and feed, and flew away to the higher ground. Out of 2000 inhabitants of one of the Indian reserves, only one wild boar died during the tsunami in December 2004.
Today scientists in many countries are studying the possibility of predicting disasters based on animal behavior. Much attention is paid to this in China and Japan.
Japanese ancient legends say that the world created catfish. And, when people violate the laws of nature, the catfish begins to worry, beat with its tail and fins, which necessarily entails an earthquake.
Today, Tokyo scientists are studying the behavior of catfish before disasters, and they argue that catfish do show signs of disturbance on the eve of earthquakes.
On Japanese ships, the behavior of small fish in aquariums is monitored. Their behavior suggests that a storm is coming.
Chinese scientists had the experience of nationwide tracking of non-standard behavior of domestic and wild animals, which made it possible in 1975 in Liaoping province to evacuate large numbers of people a few hours before the earthquake. So far, this is the only case when observations of animal behavior have resulted in specific actions to prevent human deaths.
Scientists cannot yet give an exact answer to the question of what are the mechanisms of animal sensitivity. Of course, they can more subtly feel very slight changes in the earth's magnetic field, electric field, changes in air pressure and noise level, the smell of gas coming from the bowels of the earth.
Science knows cases when animals predicted avalanches.
During the eruption of the Mont Pele volcano on the Martinique island, the city of Saint-Pierre was destroyed in 30 seconds, 300 thousand inhabitants and … only one cat died. The pets left the city a few days before the disaster!
There is a cat monument in England. During the Second World War, they warned of the bombing by their behavior.
These and many other factors give the right to speak not only about the more subtle apparatuses of sensitivity of animals, but also about the presence of a certain sixth sense in them. Perhaps it helps them to accurately assess the degree of impending danger, find safe places, make decisions in an environment of threat to life, and help people.
By the way, people are also endowed with a certain sensitivity, and on the eve of catastrophes, a person's pulse quickens, the nervous system is excited. But these signs can be caused by anything, and therefore cannot be used in predicting disasters. Research into animal behavior can provide tangible benefits to humans. To do this, you need to be a little more attentive to the world around us and its inhabitants. Which instinctively or consciously warn us about danger, and, often, show the way to salvation.
With a cricket, you can determine the temperature in the room. The warmer, the faster they chirp. If you count how many sounds a cricket makes in 14 seconds and add forty, you get the room temperature in Fahrenheit.
In South America, the behavior of dragonflies has long been monitored. These insects flock and fly away before a hurricane.
Penguins lie down on the snow and direct their beaks in the direction from which bad weather is coming.
Bees close up the entrance for a hungry winter or leave it open if the winter is warm.
The more snowy the winter, and, consequently, the higher the flood, the higher the bear settles in the den.
Before the rain, ants climb higher, cows lie down, frogs croak more often, and sheep wool rings open.
Why do rats flee the ship?
At all times, if sailors noticed that rats leave the ship before sailing, it was considered a bad sign. A ship abandoned by rodents was bound to be caught in a storm or stumbled upon reefs. How do tailed beasts sense danger? Modern science cannot yet explain this. According to one version, rats feel low-frequency vibrations that occur in the aquatic environment shortly before the onset of a storm. Jellyfish have similar abilities - at the edge of the dome they have hearing organs that are sensitive to vibrations. The dome, like a horn, amplifies low-frequency sounds, which allows jellyfish to escape to a safe depth in time.
However, in the case of rats, things are far from obvious. Even during the Second World War, it was noticed that rodents foresee not only an impending storm, but also other misfortunes that await the ship in the future. For example, torpedo attacks. At that time, a whole investigation was undertaken in Murmansk - the military authorities were trying to find out why the sailors every now and then try to transfer from one ship to another, sometimes worse armed and less fast. It turned out that people are trying to leave the ships after the rats: the sailors noticed that the ships abandoned by the rodents certainly meet with German submarines and never return to the port of destination. Despite the attempts of the command to prove that rats cannot know the future, people tried to transfer from the doomed ship at any cost.
How the rats managed to predict the death of ships is a mystery. Another example that confirms the phenomenal abilities of rodents is the mass exodus of rats from Stalingrad shortly before the city came under German attack.
It is not only rats that have the ability to anticipate the approach of trouble. The title of "live locators" rightfully went to domestic cats. During World War II, Murk was used as a predictor of airstrikes. Before enemy raids, the cats behaved unusual - they hissed, hid, tried to leave their homes. The owners realized that the strange behavior of the pets warned of the need to go to the bomb shelter. For their extraordinary abilities, cats even received a special award. During wartime in Great Britain and France, cats that helped save human lives were awarded a medal with an engraving "We also serve the Motherland."
The cat's ability to foresee catastrophes is still used today. For example, in earthquake-prone areas, it is difficult to find a house without a cat. Residents of dangerous places noticed that the murks know about future earthquakes and volcanic eruptions as well as scientists.
But what do cats feel? According to one version, they have a more subtle hearing than humans, so they can pick up microseismic vibrations in the earth's crust, according to another version - animals feel changes in the earth's magnetic field before volcanic eruptions or tremors. However, neither the one nor the other version has not been confirmed. Skeptics, on the other hand, believe that all the described examples, when animals warn people of impending disaster, are nothing more than an accident.
But, despite the fact that the amazing abilities of animals have not received confirmation from official science, people are trying to use such signs. So, in 1975, having noticed the unusual behavior of the inhabitants of zoos and pets, the Chinese authorities evacuated the population of an entire city, which was soon completely destroyed by a seven-point earthquake. Such "observation" of animals allowed to save more than 90 thousand lives.
Master, I'm with you
Cats, dogs, rodents are able to anticipate not only natural disasters, but also the misfortune that threatens the owner. Thus, in the USA, Canada and Europe there are special schools for dogs, where animals are trained to help people with epilepsy. Dogs can anticipate an impending attack by a slight change in the owner's smell, color, and pupil size. Specially trained animals do not allow their owners to go out onto the roadway before the seizure begins, expose the body to the falling owner and "remind" the person that it is necessary to lie down or sit down in advance. Dogs are also trained to sit next to the unconscious owner and protect him from burglars.
One of these dogs - a poodle named Seiko - more than once saved the life of his owner Sue Hoffman, saving her from falls on the freeway. And one day Seiko sensed that the mistress had a trouble in the bathroom. With a loud bark, the poodle called for help from Sue's family, thereby preventing her from drowning.
There are examples when animals feel a threat to humans at a distance. A case is described when a cat came to a cemetery to say the last "forgive" the owner who crashed in a car in another city. On the day of the funeral, the mustachioed friend sat down next to the grave, as if he knew who it was intended for.
Another cat, named Oscar, who once lived in one of the American nursing homes, received the ominous name of the one who can smell death. Usually wild and unsociable, he invariably came to the bed of the patient who was destined to die. According to the testimonies of the nurses, Oscar was never wrong. When they tried to force him out of the ward with the doomed, he began to meow heart-rendingly and scratch the door. What caused Oscar to behave this way is unknown.