Fireworks: A Fire in the Sky

(Image via Wikimedia Commons)
(Image via Wikimedia Commons)

Today is Independence Day in the United States.

Here are some things you may not have known about fireworks.

The history of fireworks can be traced to the seventh century in China, which is also where gunpowder was developed. Fireworks have played an important role in many Chinese cultural celebrations ever since.

Eventually fireworks and gunpowder reached the Middle East and Europe in the 13th century. Firework displays, however, didn’t gain popularity until the middle of the 17th century, when Chinese culture became fashionable in France and elsewhere.

About a century later, George Frederic Handel wrote his “Music for the Royal Fireworks” to celebrate the Treaty of Aachen, which ended the War of Austrian Succession.

The tradition of celebrating with fireworks was brought to America. Fireworks were a part of the first Independence Day celebration in 1777, and at George Washington’s inauguration in 1789.

Fireworks are low explosives, meaning the explosion is slower than the speed of sound.

Generally speaking a firework shell in a display is fired from tubes similar to mortars. there are two parts to a display shell: the lift charge and the shell itself. The lift charge is what sends the shell into the air. It contains a time-delay fuse, allowing the shell to explode well into the sky.

Different colors are obtained by using different chemical elements in the shell’s stars. For example, strontium and lithium burn red, while copper burns blue and calcium burns orange.

In the United States, it’s illegal for people without a license to possess shells with a diameter of larger than 1 3/4 inches and any firecracker containing more than 50 milligrams of explosive powder.

Our question: What company is the largest consumer of fireworks in the United States?

Today is Liberation Day in both Rwanda and the Northern Mariana Islands, and it’s Republic Day in the Philippines.

It’s unofficially National Caesar Salad Day, National Barbecue Day and National Country Music Day.

It’s the birthday of illustrator Rube Goldberg, who was born in 1883; advice columnists and twin sisters Abigail Van Buren and Ann Landers, who were born in 1918; and musician Bill Withers, who is 78 today.

Because our topic doesn’t have a specific date associated with it, we’ll spin the wheel to pick a year at random.

This week in 1992, the top song in the U.S. was “Baby Got Back” by Sir-Mix-A-Lot.

The No. 1 movie was “Batman Returns,” while “Oh, The Places You’ll Go” by Dr. Seuss topped the New York Times Bestsellers list.

Weekly take-home test

Who invented dynamite?


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