As we get ready to usher in 2014 tonight, let us share some interesting nuggets about what many consider to be the highlight of any celebration – the pyrotechnics!
Around 1000 BC, before gunpowder was invented, the Chinese had the tradition of throwing bamboo stems into fires, which created little explosions (caused by the expanding air and steam in the stems) to scare away evil spirits. Hence, the Chinese name for firecracker, bao zhu (爆竹) – exploding bamboo.
Setting colours on fire
Fireworks only exploded in flashes of orange and white until the 1830s, when scientific advances gave pyrotechnicians a wider palette, through the introduction of metallic salts such as strontium (red), barium (green), copper (blue), sodium (yellow) and others.
About 60% of the people living in Tultepec, Mexico, are directly and indirectly involved in the production of fireworks, which probably explains why it’s the place for the ultimate fireworks festival, taking place in March annually – a nine-day fiesta of traditional fireworks displays, with rides, concerts and food.
In pyrotechnics factories, employees have to place their hands on a brass plate to diffuse the static electricity built up on their bodies, and be clothed in cotton, the least static-producing fabric. As you can imagine, a stray spark thrown off by static in a pyrotechnics factory can have rather dire consequences!
It’s a blast!
The celebrations for the 50th Anniversary of Kuwait’s Constitution on 10 November 2012 feature the explosions of 77,282 firework projectiles, the largest number ever launched for an event (as certified by the Guinness World Records).