Tin plague

Different diseases are trapped by biological organisms. But, it turns out, there are diseases in metals too. Let's get acquainted with the "tin plague".

Different diseases are trapped by biological organisms. But, it turns out, there are diseases in metals too. Let's get acquainted with the tin plague

This happened in the 19th century in Russia. Somehow the authoritative commission checked the warehouses of the tsarist intendantry. The warehouses were not heated, and there, as in the street, there was a severe frost. All explanations of the commission were made by the quartermaster. When they came to a large box with soldiers' buttons, the general - the head of the commission - wished to be discovered. The order was executed at once. But what is this? The box was filled with gray powder instead of shiny soldier's buttons. The same was in other boxes.

"Are you kidding me!? - General exclaimed, what do these jokes mean?".

"I can not know, Your Excellency", mumbled the frightened official, there were buttons".

The general knew that the army had both embezzlement and stealing, but this case went beyond all possible limits. He just did not have the words to say something. A good pound of powder was given to Professor V. V. Markovnikov for chemical examination. He gave a quick response. Gray powder is ordinary tin!

In 1912, the English explorer Scott led the expedition to the unconquered South Pole at the time. Overcoming the terrible cold, the polar explorers advanced deep into the sixth continent. During the rest, the expedition members decided to warm themselves with hot tea. But when they took out their tin pots, they saw that their walls, formerly silvery-white, were now covered with gray spots. And if you only squeezed or hit on such a pot as it crumbled into powder. But worst of all, the polar explorers had tanks with fuel, sealed with tin solder. During the severe frosts, the tanks "disintegrated" and fuel leaked out. The expedition, together with its commander, died from the cold in the icy desert of Antarctica. And about these misadventures told the diary found later polar explorers.

Now it is known that allotrope of tin played a cruel joke with both buttons and with Scott's expedition. This substance has three modifications: ordinary tin - white (with a tetragonal crystal cell), brittle (with a rhombic lattice) - is formed at a temperature above 1600 , and gray (with a cubic lattice), which exists up to temperatures of -130 . The fastest transition of white tin to gray occurs at a temperature of -480 C. A feature of white tin is the ability to supercool and remain in this state at very low temperatures. But if you only touch a tin of gray tin to such a supercooled metal, as the latter from such contact immediately "becomes infected" and crumbles into powder. That's why such a phenomenon is called "tin plague".

Tin - plastic metal. But tin is also frail. And this leads to another interesting phenomenon. So, if you bend the tin rod, you can hear a peculiar creak - "tin scream". Its cause is the mutual friction of tin crystals.

Thus, correctly using the properties of metals and the temperature regimes of their operation, one can avoid unpleasant, sometimes tragic, consequences. And do not infect, for example, a tin product with a "tin plague".