We've celebrated Australia Day in Australia and Dia de la Independenica in Colombia and Chile, but there's nothing like the 4th of July in the USA. America certainly does celebrate its independence with a bang. We'll BBQ something on Mary's new grill and plan for an explosive evening.
Popular belief has it that the founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4th, 1776 proclaiming our national sovereignty as a new country, the United States of America, and separating ourselves rather dramatically from Mother England. Actually, the Declaration was signed by 12 of the 13 colonies on July 2nd, but hey, I'm happy to celebrate on the 4th. Our wedding anniversary is July 2nd and I'd hate to share the date with the rest of America.
Back to the topic at hand … fireworks. We love them. We love the explosions of color and the deafening sounds. We love the smell of burning sulphur associated with the sights and sounds and the smoky clouds that permeate the air after a particularly big display. Here in Las Vegas, several of the downtown casinos have displays, but they'll be mobbed and we dislike mobs (except mobs of kangaroos, of course). The casinos tout that their displays are by Grucci of New York and if you look at the Grucci website, it's pretty impressive. They coordinated the world's largest fireworks display in Dubai on New Year's Eve last year at a cost of $6 million. Pretty impressive! And, of course, London claimed the world's first multi-sensory fireworks display on New Year's Eve 2014. How awesome is that … tasting fireworks in the form of peach-flavored snowflakes and banana confetti?
I doubt we'll see the biggest display or taste peach snowflakes, but I still love the chemistry involved. I was wondering exactly what chemistry caused the rainbow of colors. Historically, of course, it was the Chinese who figured all this out back in the 7th century. In fact, China is still the largest manufacturer and exporter of fireworks in the world. Liuyang, Hunan Province is the fireworks capital of the world. CNN labeled it a real “boom-town”. (tsk, tsk) Regarding the colors? Different elements produce different colors when they burn. According to what I read, fireworks makers blend pure elements with gunpowder to create the desired colors. The more of a specific element, the more intense the color. The recipes and combinations are closely guarded secrets. So when you watch the fireworks, you can figure out what elements are being used. It does make for a good chemistry lesson.
- Red: Lithium, Strontium
- Green: Barium
- Blue: Copper
- Yellow: Sodium
- Orange: Calcium
- Silver Shimmer or Pure White: Aluminum, Magnesium, Titanium
- Purple: Compounded Strontium and Copper
As for us? We might head to the airport for a less crowded view of the fireworks at Caesar's Palace or maybe head over to Henderson where the Stations Casino is sponsoring a free Grucci fireworks display. Or maybe … we'll stay at home and watch the New York City display on the tube. Not quite the same, but it'll be less crowded, cooler and we can talk chemistry in comfort while sipping our cold beer.
Happy 238th Birthday, America!