The Fourth of July means Fireworks History, Physics, and Technology
June 28, 2002 3:32 AM   Subscribe

Bang! The 4th of July means fireworks and here in Seattle we are blessed with two shows. I'll be on a houseboat on Lake Union watching the one with the truly awesome Japanese fireworks. Japanese hanabi shells are spheres rather than the cylinders of American manufacture. For more fireworks linkage--and there is an incredible amount of it on the web--try Terry Dimock's Pyro Page--it's so incredibly comprehensive that, apart from American Fireworks News, The Physics of Coloured Fireworks and and Thinkquest's Fireworks, I won't bore you with any more here. But do remember this--fireworks and pets do not mix.
posted by y2karl (8 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Just a few hours ago I edited a medical report about a 17-year-old girl who got hit in the eye with a bottle rocket. End result: no more eye.

Please do be careful. I got a burning cinder on my eyelid as a lad, and that was the end of my playing with fireworks.
posted by planetkyoto at 4:53 AM on June 28, 2002

Wow, y2karl - thanks!

I love fireworks but the real stuff is frightening. Up in the North of Portugal, around the city of Viana do Castelo, there are a lot of serious pyrotechnicians. Once a year, during the Summer festivals, they're allowed to go wild. It's then called "fogo preso"(contained fire)and it goes against every legal guideline there is.

I've seen it happen twice. It's like all hell let loose. The earth burns furiously for a mile around - when the devices finally land they're still flaming and set fire to everything. The crowd, which should step back, inches forward towards the circle where all the fire-masters are firing their creations.

It's very frightening. The last time, half of my brand new blue blazer was set alight. Add the screams of several thousand people - including religious armageddon cries - the many firemen rushing to and fro to put out the worst blazes and you may get the idea. (The name of the most notorious festival is Nossa Senhora da Agonia.)

The rest of the year these brilliant old men(here's the only link I could find) make legal fireworks. But their hearts aren't in it. They like the real hell-fire and spend a lot of the money saved during the year to set up ever more deafening and heart-stopping explosions.

Needless to say, the fecking European Union is on to these very old, some say pre-Christian rituals and their days are numbered. At least officially. ;)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 4:53 AM on June 28, 2002 [1 favorite]

I believe this is worth a read.
posted by Frasermoo at 5:46 AM on June 28, 2002

Well, Miguel, before I Googled for this thread, I had no idea of the passion the Maltese have for fireworks.
posted by y2karl at 8:27 AM on June 28, 2002

Here in Flint, they start lighting them off in about April and don't stop until about the end of Sept. Our neighborhood is filled with loud explosions, rockets streaking out of the trees, and the machine gun-like rapid fire of entire bricks of Black Cats.

My nerves are a wreck.

I've never lived anywhere where they took such utter joy in this. However, I doubt the cultrual or ritualistic aspect of their enthusiasm, more like... well, Beavis and Butthead-like glee.
posted by Dean_Paxton at 9:09 AM on June 28, 2002

(The name of the most notorious festival is Nossa Senhora da Agonia.)

LOL That's marvelous, Miguel. Now THAT'S the kind of post that makes MY Friday. :)
posted by rushmc at 9:25 AM on June 28, 2002

But do remember this--fireworks and pets do not mix.

also, fireworks and ovens can be dangerous
posted by donkeysuck at 1:33 PM on June 28, 2002

On a whim, I googled for Seattle fireworks--slim pickings relted but here's a picture from last year. The shot is towards the north northeast. I will be due east of the barge from where fireworks are shot, looking up at a 75° angle--close enough to to feel as well as hear every boom. It is so cool.
posted by y2karl at 9:11 PM on June 28, 2002

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