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The Science of Fireworks!

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A brief background of the fashionable firework.
Aid us write subtitles for thislecture: http://www.youtube.com/timedtext_video clip?v=rmtK2BgmGCw
Professor Chris Bishop, presenter of the 2008 Royal Establishment Christmas Lectures, presents a relatives lecture on the background of the fashionable firework.

Via demonstrations of pyrotechnic chemistry listen to how Chinese incendiaries created from honey led to the improvement of gunpowder find how the loud bangs of fireworks are routed in the origins of images and discover out how an incident in a nineteenth-century kitchen sparked a new chemistry for firework producing.

Recorded at the College of Cambridge on the four November 2011.

Look at the 2012 Christmas Lectures in full on the Ri Channel: http://bit.ly/VJM09x

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38 comments:

  1. Just a point to mention on whistling fireworks. Modern compounds use a mixture of potassium benzoate and potassium perchlorate to produce the whistle without any harmonic tubing involved, a science within itself.

  2. For some reason I always thought shells were launced in a similar fashion to setting off demolition explosives with a blasting cap – never thought of an electric match but it makes sense now. A lot safer to handle than detonators.

  3. if you have those dollar store sparklers and little flashing fountains lying around after the 4th of july or new years, take them apart and separate the different colors ( so you dont mix them up) and effects ( some have a crackling strobe) in little containers, and the next time your family is sitting around the campfire and everyone's done roasting marshmallows and telling stories you tell them that you have dust that can change the flame's color. pull out the dust that gives off, say, the red light ( strontium nitrate/black powder) and toss a pinch or 2 in, and whoof the flames flare red with a bit more white smoke. now get the sparkler powder ( which is iron filings/black powder) and toss a bit in, the fire glitters with flittering orange sparks. try all the types and once youre done, everyone is well pleased.

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