Physics of Fireworks Essay

2869 Words12 Pages
After black powder was discovered by the Chinese in the 9th Century, the relatively short history of fireworks began with this explosive chemical composition. Black powder is made up of potassium nitrate, sulfur, and charcoal (KNO3); in the correct amounts, this combination has very explosive results. The use of black powder sprung forth the evolution of muskets, rockets, and fireworks. Although history has shown that the development of black powder muskets into modern day guns, artillery, and weapons of mass destruction have changed the face of the earth, taken many lives, and changed the outcome of many wars, black powder is also used in many rituals and celebrations.

While traveling the globe, Marco Polo, fascinated by this black
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This one thousand firework display was the biggest of its time; however, disastrous outcomes of this collaboration claimed the lives of two people and set fire to one females dress as the demonstration exploded before the show even started. Ironically, this catastrophic set-up was used as a model for the 1981 commemoration of the marriage between Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer. As music and fireworks progressed, the synchronized union between the fireworks display and a soundtrack was established. The French were the first to coordinate this masterpiece in Cannes, 1960.

Today, fireworks are a multimillion dollar industry, producing over one million large ordinance fireworks per year. With modern technology, live video feed of demonstrations around the world link one unique display to the next. With the push to be the most original and unique, the future of firework displays are uncharted. The colors and effects most often seen today are inventions of this century. A major example is the development of colored displays. Before the 19th century, only various yellows and oranges could be produced with steel and charcoal. Basic reds and greens were added to the displays with the invention of chlorates along with good blues and purples late this century.

The physics behind every large ordinance fireworks show is very involved and can range from vectors, velocities, trajectories, projectiles, and the directed force explosions from the shell. All
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