Power of Fire
Civilization would not be possible without fire. Human beings have known how to control fire for almost 1.5 million years. But for many thousands of years after that, people still found it difficult to start a fire. One method they used was to strike one hard mineral against another to make sparks. A second method was to twirl one piece of wood against another until the wood heated up to its ignition point.
Fire is very useful. Campfires kept people warm and scared off wild animals. Fire lit the way at night and also cooked food. Later people set fires to clear land for farming. They used fire to make pottery from clay, to shape metals. Fire is used in many factories to operate furnaces or heat boilers. In a steel mill it is used to melt the materials that go into making steel.
However, fire is dangerous. It always must be used very carefully.
Fire comes about when oxygen combines in a certain way with fuel. For the fuel to burn, it must be heated to a temperature called the ignition point. Every kind of fuel has its own ignition point. When the oxygen is used up, the fire will go out.
People worshiped and deified fire. The great prophet Zarathustra founded one of the most ancient world religions – Zoroastrianism. Many millions of its adherents worshiped fire for thousands of years.
According to Greek myths, the fire was given to people by Prometheus, who was cruelly punished by Zeus. But, most likely, people began to use fire, lighted by lightning during thunderstorms, and tried the fried meat of animals that died in the arisen fires.
Millennia passed, but for a long time starting and maintaining fire was far from easy. Ordinary matches were among the most amazing and greatest inventions of a man. For many decades, matches were one of the most important elements of human life. They simplified and made life easier, and even saved many people.
Various chemicals have different color of the fire. Thus, boron burns with a blue-green flame, potassium – violet, lithium and calcium – red, copper, phosphorus and barium burn with a green flame.
The lighter appeared in 1823. It was invented by the chemist Johann Wolfgang Döbereiner. The first matches appeared a little bit earlier, in 1805. They were invented by Jean Chancel. In 1826 John Walker began the production of sulfur matches.
The oldest Eternal Flame is the fire at the memorial of an unknown soldier, which is in a triumphal arch in Paris. It has been burning since 1921 in honor of the soldiers who died in the First World War.
The longest fire in history, which lasted 130 years, was in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Annually, the flames burned about 2 million tons of coal.
Fire is a symbol of the triumph of light and life over death and darkness. The symbol of purification and home wealth. The symbol of renewal and birth in a new incarnation.