How things go boom in the night
Published: Sunday, June 30, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, June 27, 2013 at 4:22 p.m.
Since our earliest years, we've been oohed and awed by the booms and blooms overhead as each Fourth of July came to a close — and other events ending with fireworks.
The majesty — magic even — of pyrotechnical displays hold us spellbound from the first salute to the grand finale, when as many as 500 to 1,500 shells are sent spiralling into the night sky in less than a minute.
In actuality, it's less magic than chemistry that produces the booms and colors.
Norman Casse, who's been launching fireworks shells into the sky for 70 of his 76 years, explained how fireworks work. His Ocala-based Skylighters of Florida produces many of the displays we'll be oohing and ahing over in the next few days.
One final warning: Pyrotechnics can be dangerous. In 2012, there were 8,600 fireworks-related injuries, according to the American Pyrotechnics Association. The National Fire Protection Association notes that 90 percent of emergency room trips involving fireworks result from the types consumers are permitted to use, and that in a typical year, there are more fires reported on July 4 than any other day.
Why not leave the magic — and chemistry — to the wizards who know what they're doing?