Gas mask, the origin of disaster Semiotics


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Text / sea monster
Source: brain polar body (ID: unity007)
On January 30, at the beginning of the outbreak of the new crown, a man wearing a gas mask just boarded an American Airlines flight to Houston, which immediately caused panic among all passengers. Finally, the flight escorted the man off the plane for interfering with other passengers. The plane was delayed for nearly an hour before taking off.
At that time, most Americans would think that the passenger was overreacting, and if we put the number of people who have been diagnosed in the United States more than 200000 today, the man’s caution at that time would be very wise. Of course, if you just wear a mask, the effect will obviously not be so creepy, and you may not be driven down.
It can be seen how powerful gas masks are to people’s psychological impact.
In fact, gas masks, both in appearance and in use, are bound to the danger signals of disaster, war, gas and death. In addition, the rendering of a large number of films and TV plays such as anti-terrorism and doomsday themes has deepened people’s stereotype of gas masks.
In general, if such an alternative with gas mask appears suddenly in a closed space, most people will either feel that we are in a huge “uncertain danger” or that the one wearing the mask is the “troublemaker”, so as to instinctively repel and resist.
If we simply review the birth and development history of gas masks, we will know that they are indeed closely related to the “troubles” of various natural and man-made disasters.
Death and War: the power source of the invention of gas masks
Looking for the origin of the birth of gas masks, we can trace back to the genius inventor Leonardo da Vinci. He once put forward the idea of a kind of anti poison protective device: cover the soldier’s mouth and nose with a fine cloth soaked in water to prevent being harmed by poisonous gas and powder.
Of course, at the level of war in the cold weapon era in the 16th century, there is no powerful gas weapon, nor a decent gas mask.
In 1619, Charles de l’orme, a doctor dealing with plague prevention and control, first wore a more intimidating beak mask to prevent the “Black Death”.
After all, people didn’t know that the black death was the real cause. People noticed that crows didn’t seem to be afraid of the epidemic, and tried to improve the epidemic prevention effect by imitating the image of crows. The herbal medicine and charcoal that doctors fill in the bird’s mouth inadvertently play the same filtering and disinfection role as modern gas masks.
This is the first time that the image of gas masks has been firmly linked with “death”.
In 1868, the famous physicist dindle developed a gas mask for firefighters, which can filter particles in the air. According to the design drawing at that time, the gas mask consists of three layers of dense cotton wool, each of which is separated by a layer of wool soaked in lime and charcoal.
This mask already has the rudiment of modern gas mask, and multi-layer fillers are used as much as possible to absorb and filter harmful substances. However, the limited application scope and frequency at that time could not stimulate the invention of more practical gas masks.
In the first World War, on April 22, 1915, the German army launched the world’s first gas attack with chlorine (84 disinfectants containing chlorine are now necessary for our homes), causing 15000 casualties among the British and French allied forces.
Only four days later, the French army distributed the anti-virus masks soaked with sodium thiosulfate, glycerin and sodium carbonate solution for the troops. Soon afterwards, the British army also distributed the “black gauze masks” equipped with the above three chemical reagents.
The initial modern war really became the experimental site of the chemical industry. The emergence of the gas war greatly accelerated the research and development of the gas mask. Since then, with more highly toxic weapons put into the battlefield, the real sense of gas masks began to appear. The British developed a sea wave cap and similar pH protective cap that can completely cover the head, which became a temporary protective equipment against the German poison gas.
Since then, with the upgrading of the gas war, both Britain, the United States and Germany have upgraded the gas masks. The invention of special gas filter tank, suction and exhalation valves has greatly increased the use of gas masks. The activated carbon in the canister can also greatly enhance the activity by adding various filter papers and reagents, and can effectively protect against a variety of toxic gases and viruses.
The real sense of modern gas mask was born. War is a killing machine, which turns human imagination and creativity into the most cruel weapon to throw on each other, and then promotes the process of scientific invention from the cruel killing.
It is regrettable that during the first World War, the use of these too anti humanitarian biological and chemical weapons made there was no more gas war in the European battlefield during the Second World War. On the contrary, in the Second World War, the Chinese army and people, who were almost unable to resist, suffered from the poison gas war and biochemical war of the well-equipped Japanese army at that time.
Terrorism and counter-terrorism:
The symbolic significance of gas masks
Just like the “dark forest rule” described by Liu in the three body, the heart of preventing people is indispensable. Almost different civilizations and groups always fall into the endless zero sum game psychology of suspicion and attack.
Although major countries have signed treaties banning chemical and biological weapons, gas masks and chemical defense training are still necessary equipment and subjects for each national army. Although there is no danger of large-scale war at present, the endless terrorist activities and low cost of biological and chemical weapons still make gas masks an indispensable military material.
Although the use of gas masks in military anti-terrorism is not so high, but the use of gas masks is more powerful in deterrence and identity concealment. The anti-terrorism training and military operations of British SAS special forces are familiar to almost all military fans through the spread of film and television programs, among which the equipment of the iconic gas mask and Rifle Bayonet are more popular.

In addition, under the influence of terrorism, nuclear threat and other factors, gas masks have become a kind of “placebo” of sudden disaster in a sense, and become the most comforting end equipment for many families besides the underground air raid shelter for nuclear war prevention and the end of life can with a shelf life of several years.
From the 9 / 11 attacks of that year to the spread of the new crown epidemic, we can imagine that American families will start to hoard gas masks in panic. However, if there is no real large-scale air pollution and biological and chemical weapons attack, the use of such gas masks will not be too high.
In the actual application scenarios, modern gas masks are gradually extended to the fields of industrial protection, labor protection and emergency rescue; most of the gas masks that were snapped up by American families in those years are also dusted in the garage, occasionally used when the host is interested in house repair and painting.
In the small consumer market, gas masks have become the daily collection of military fans. In the street graffiti artists who are famous for their rebellions, gas masks not only play a role in preventing body injury, but also play a role in protecting identity and showing their unique external image.
Anti virus effect: the form of gas mask is greater than the essence
The emergence of the new crown epidemic has almost become a great opportunity for the military fans to display their treasures. At the beginning of the epidemic, a picture of an anti gas mask that only a life and death friend dare to invite you out to play was very popular, which could be said to make the public once again establish a new impression on the gas mask.
Can gas masks prevent viruses? In fact, it really depends on the situation.
Professional gas masks, especially those with professional oxygen supply equipment, are naturally anti-virus.
But we ordinary people use the filter gas mask, because the filter tank needs to exchange with the outside air, which has certain requirements for oxygen concentration, temperature and gas concentration. The adsorption layer of the canister can be used to filter toxic gases or vapors, while the filter layer can filter harmful aerosols.
According to the national standard of gas masks in China, there is no requirement of virus protection for filter gas masks in China. Wearing ordinary filter gas masks does not mean that everything is well. Among them, in the existing civil gas masks, what can really play a role in blocking the virus is the filter cotton core, the principle of which is similar to the mask.
However, if you wear gas masks for a long time, you need to disinfect them in time, and pay attention to the long-term use of the canister and filter element, and replace them regularly. But in terms of cost and practicability, it’s not as economical as wearing disposable mask with cotton filter core.
In the practical application of this epidemic prevention, only in a few high-risk scenes can we really use gas masks and protective clothing. In addition, for many riders and delivery boys, gas masks are actually more wind and cold resistant. But for some people, it’s a different matter to wear a unique gas mask or even protective clothing to go out because of their flaunting psychology.
In terms of the cognition and attitude towards gas masks and masks, the emergence of the new crown epidemic has suddenly become a very serious problem. Due to the relationship between culture and living habits, China and the surrounding countries of Japan and South Korea have basically no strong reaction and resistance to wearing masks or even gas masks in public. On the contrary, in Europe and America, wearing masks has been regarded as a sign of your illness, which makes people hate and reject, let alone a stronger stimulus signal like gas masks.
Due to the underestimate of the power of virus, this kind of instinctive or arrogant psychological cognition makes the current European and American countries pay a huge price. This time, with an incredibly low cost, the new coronavirus has changed people’s social, travel and other lifestyles around the world in just two or three months. Gas mask, an invention rarely noticed or used in daily life, has become a star product with high exposure.
From now on, families in Europe and America are scrambling to buy gas masks and masks, which once again confirms the “true fragrance” law.
Gas mask, the “great” invention invented by human beings in response to natural and man-made disasters, as the origin of a broad sense of “disaster Semiotics”, has become one of the most recognized super symbols in the history of human disasters. This tool, in fact, brings us enlightenment in the following aspects:
First of all, in terms of function, the gas mask born in the gas war is indeed the last barrier for us to survive in extremely dangerous situations. But in fact, if there is no terrible biochemical war or continuous haze caused by industrial pollution in the future, gas masks will not be really widely used.
Secondly, in the sense of cultural symbolism, because of its horrible shape and the meaning of dangerous symbols established from functional symbols, gas masks have more negative effects on psychology. This is also the reason why gas masks are frequently used in many thriller and doomsday themed video games.
Third, from the perspective of human psychology, gas masks play a more psychological consolation role. On the one hand, because of its powerful function, it can play a strict protective effect after wearing. On the other hand, because of its unique shape, it has a unique psychological feeling. Therefore, people are afraid and love of gas masks. Once the symbol appears, we will instinctively reject it; once the danger really appears, we want to rush to buy it as soon as possible.
This epidemic, the high frequency of gas masks, is just a stress reaction of the double superposition of human instinct panic psychology and seeking safety psychology. Its actual function value is far less than that of the medical mask which can be produced on a large scale.
For most people, gas mask is more like a metaphor for modern society. We humans are still in the fear of the environmental disaster and survival threat created by ourselves, and the existence of gas masks is like the last line of defense for human beings to face the crisis. If you don’t want to be in a world where everyone should wear gas masks, please treat the world in front of you well.