What do you think of when you hear the word “lighthouse”? Someone will imagine a GPS tracker, some spyware tracker, some flashing lights on a police car, someone with just a radio beacon. But, most likely, most people will present exactly the most beautiful tower on the seafront, surrounded by a halo of romance and flocks of hungry seagulls. Below you are presented, but the origins of the word lead to the navigation structure. If you want a first stationary navigation tower. In ancient times, it allows the ships not to stumble on rocks and reefs, and now performs this and some other important functions. This design is harder than it looks, but more important than you might think, just walking along the shore.
First of all, as usual, is to understand what the lighthouse and how the definition of you can answer this question.
“The lighthouse - a tower with signal lights on the beach, on the island or at the mouth of the river.” - definition according to the dictionary Ozhegova.
Typically, the beacons are fixed structures installed on the banks, although sometimes they are floating. In this case, they are mounted on special pontoons or buoys and are anchored to the bottom. Functions in this case are similar to the functions of fixed structures.
When was the first lighthouse
The construction of lighthouses being from ancient times. When the first of them, hard to say, but certainly it was around in those days, when there was a more or less large ships and began a mass movement on the water.
Despite this, there is a lighthouse, which can be called the most famous. It is the lighthouse of Alexandria, built in the III century BC. He was even recognized as one of the wonders of the world.
The basis of the first lighthouses was a fire. It all started with the fact that the Greeks and the Phoenicians mark fires dangerous water passages. Gradually it grew into fixed structures, in which the fuel used is coal, rapeseed oil and even kerosene.
An important stage in the history of the lighthouses was the appearance of a Fresnel lens, which allowed you to direct the flow of light in the direction of the ships, but not one thin beam, and a diffuse source. So the range of the lighthouse has become significantly higher. Lens she was born in 1820.
Fresnel lens is an optical part with a complex stepped surface. It can replace both spherical and cylindrical lenses and other optical parts such as prisms.
If to speak separately to other types of beacons, it may be noted that the first lightship on the river appeared in 1820 at the mouth of the Thames and the sea, only 60 years later. It was on the North sea.
In the history of our country the first lighthouses appeared in the eighteenth century. However, they almost immediately began to appear not one. Was observed a rapid growth in their numberand it was connected with the decrees of Peter the great and development of the fleet in that period. Many lighthouses were privately owned, but on 8 July 1807, he issued a decree of Alexander I, according to which they were transferred to the subordination of the Navy Department. This was the only way to provide adequate care for such a complex but important structure and a timely service.
All this time the beacons watched a special people, called lighthouse keepers or manicani, but only at the end of the Millennium they have a professional holiday — day of Russia of a light Keeper. It was first celebrated on 8 July 1997 in the 190-th anniversary of the transfer which I mentioned above.
On the other side of the ocean, in the United States, lighthouses, as each country has developed its own way. The first was built in 1716 near Boston. You might ask why that’s the only time in major countries began building these structures, if they were before our era, and rightly so. The building really was not very fast and at the end of the XIX century in the whole world there were only about a hundred such objects. However, around this time, lighthouses were built in many other countries. For example, in Japan.
One of the turning points in the construction of lighthouses, and in their history, occurred at the beginning of the XX century (1907), when Gustav Dalena was invented the sun valve. It is possible to make beacons auto. They turn off after sunrise and lit again when it sat or was hidden behind dense clouds in bad weather. The invention of the valve was even awarded the Nobel prize in physics in 1912 with the wording “for his invention of automatic regulators used in conjunction with gas accumulators for light sources for lighthouses and buoys”.
Solar valve — a device for igniting the signal fire, providing a release of gas only at night or in bad weather.
Based on the design of the solar valve is the flask in which are placed four rod. In the middle is blackened, and have three polished, reflecting the sunlight on the blackened rod and heat it. By heat it expands, pushing in on the valve and shuts off the gas supply. At this point the light turns off. When the rod cools and contracts, the gas is opened again and the lights go on. The principle of this valve is based on the expansion properties of materials when heated.
Largely after the advent of the solar valve to the profession of the lighthouse Keeper began to fade away. Now it actually is almost not needed. Over lighthouses watch mostly techs who just come to repair them if they break. About the damage, again, will notify the special self-diagnostic system.
Speaking of diagnostics: Created a tiny robot for diagnosis of jet engines
Since we are talking about the history of lighthouses, not to mention some interesting historical facts. For example, the most famous incident in the history of these navigation objects when at the same time disappeared without a trace three lighthouse Keeper on the Islands of Flannan in December 1990. Their fate is not known.
The coastline in France is not marked by lights until the XVII century to avoid pirate attacks. And in the United States from 1886 to 1902 as the lighthouse was used the Statue of Liberty. Actually she was built. According to the idea she had to greet their fire for the tired travelers who crossed the Atlantic.
At the moment the oldest known lighthouses is the lighthouse in the Spanish city of La Coruna. It was built during the Roman Emperor Trajan (second century).
Classification of beacons
The beacons are divided into several types, including on-site installation and the functions they perform.
As mentioned above, the beacons are shore-based and floating. The first set on the shore or in the immediate vicinity (Islands, reefs, rocks), the second swim away from the shore on special platforms or ships, usually indicating the entrance to the port.
By function beacons differ on the identification and alignment. The former are single, and the second must work in pairs.
Identification beacons are used to denote obstructions in dangerous places, as a point of navigation, for example, about which it is necessary to make a turn, as well as the sign of entry into port.
French lighthouses are much more interesting. They don’t just show that “Here rocks! Broken!”, and indicate a route to a specific location. For example, the secure channel when entering the port.
Fairway (gall. vaarwater, from varen — swim and water — water) — ship course, safe navigation and marked on-site and/or the map pass through the water area (river, lake, sea, Strait, fjord, ocean and others), characterized by sufficient depth and lack of obstacles for navigation, for example, sunken ships, reefs and mines.
Alignment beacons are always set up so that it is clear which way the ship is moving and what maneuver he must make to go through the complex plot. For the first time this notation was introduced into Europe in 1837 and was called “leading lights” (eng. Leading Lights). Such beacons are used not only at sea but in river navigation.
There are daytime and identification system beacons. To do this, they are painted in a special way, so that when it was clear which side of the hazardous area it is installed. White means safe sector, red means left from the safe sector area, and the green right.
The principle of operation of the lighthouse
About the basics of the design of the lighthouse, we can say that it is a floodlight, the light intensity of which is proportional to the square of the light gathering mirror or lens, and the angle in which the light propagates, is inversely proportional to the square.
The optical elements themselves are not made from a single piece of glass, as they are very large and provided solidity will be very expensive, difficult to manufacture and vulnerable. And since this is not a telescope, where perfect accuracy, the use of a modular design is justified.
One of the most successful design was the one which was used Fresnel lens. The design of the Assembly of such lenses and mirrors must rotate around the light source. So this is an opportunity to not only early warning, but also coverage of 360 degrees. Modern lighthouses use electric elements, as previously, instead it was a clock mechanism or system loads. “Plant” they are using muscular power to the Keeper, who from time to time, had to work hard.
As the light in old lighthouses used fire and modern electric lamps that are powered by electricity, filed with Bank or diesel generator. In floating marine beacons uses solar energy and diesel generator as a backup source.
Even more interesting content in our Yandex.Zen!
In addition to traditional light source and a rotating element in modern lighthouses often used pulse system. It allows not only to visually recognize the lighthouse due to the special rhythm of the operation, but also to give different directions in different lighting, to enable the master to understand which side it fits in the lighthouse.
In addition, modern lighthouses are equipped with additional navigation instruments. For example, radio stations or sound emitters. This allows you to focus on them in conditions of poor visibility. As an additional signal, the beacon can act as a reflector of radio signals from the ship, again giving the captain more information for decision-making.
How in the world the beacons?
Due to the use of modern navigation technology role of lighthouses as navigation aid fell slightly, and at the present time the number of working lighthouses in the world does not exceed five thousand.
Can I ask what do they need, if there is a satellite global positioning system and other modern bells and whistles, including echo sounders, sonars and so on. The true value of beacons lies in the fact that any system may fail, and the light source on the horizon is eternal. It’s like with the aircraft, which can take the instrument, but there are special lights that allow you to visually control the precision approach glide path.
In the end, you’re not driving on the Navigator, looking only at him. It only helps, like other elements, including road signs. That is why, despite the development of technology, visual observation remains the most important means of orientation at sea, and because beacons are still used.
It uses not only the old beacons. In some places, building new, which should protect the sea route to the changing navigation landscape. In the near future to predict failure from such detection means, as the beacon will not work, so they will long continue to exist to light the way for ships.