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Light Up the Sky in Red, White, and Blue

What would 4th of July be without fireworks? Fireworks mark occasions that need to be celebrated in a very special way, and celebrating the United States’ independence is such a time.

Scientists work diligently for decades to discover particular products. And then sometimes we stumble upon something that becomes an important part of life. According to the Imperial College in London, the discovery of fireworks and gunpowder is believed to have occurred by chance approximately 2,000 years ago in China.

The story is that a Chinese cook accidentally mixed three common kitchen ingredients that were dried and then burned in a fire resulting in a loud bang. It later was inserted into a bamboo stick and thrown into the fire where pressure built up and blew the tube apart resulting in the first firecracker.

Fireworks soon were incorporated into Chinese celebrations and a way to ward off evil spirits. Marco Polo later brought the explosives to the Middle East where the European crusaders carried them back to England.

The Italians are credited with developing the product further to emit a fountain of color. Only yellows and oranges could be produced until the 19th century when reds, greens, and blues were introduced. Today we also have purples, silver, and gold.

In1749 music was specifically composed by George Frederic Handel for fireworks show, Music for the Royal Fireworks. The event celebrated the Peace Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle.  Many a fireworks display is now complimented with music.

©2014, Mary K. Doyle

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