Enjoying the Fireworks!

It’s about the time of year when most folks like to celebrate our country’s birth by watching fireworks. This always brings back many memories and makes me think of scientific things.It is a proven fact that most people are drawn to fireworks because of (and I’m being a bit of a philosopher here) two things.One: man’s (the whole human race) intense fascination with fire.And two: man’s (much of the human race) intense fascination with watching someone or something else besides themselves, work. So, psychologically speaking, it’s more or less that people just enjoy watching flashy things. (For instance, Liberace, Elvis, Marilyn Monroe etc.)And fireworks are made out of several household ingredients. One is salt and pepper. The others I forget. Although it’s possible to shake a little of the gunpowder from fireworks on a birds tail and then it won’t fly away. No wait, that’s just salt. Or no, if you sprinkle gunpowder on an old wives’ tail, she’ll fly away. Yes, I think that’s it.Where was I? Oh, yes. We love to watch fireworks especially with small children, so we can say things like, “Did you see that one?” “It won’t hurt you.” “Take your face out of daddy’s pants!” and “You’re spilling all over me,watch what you’re doing, not the fireworks!”Yes, it brings back memories for all of us. Usually we start by saying, “It was legal back then..” I remember my chemistry teacher in high school would always say, “Now, don’t you guys try this. It’s very dangerous, but when I was a boy we’d fill paper straws with gunpowder and light them and send them down the school halls when they were full of kids.”Well, as the years have gone by I’ve noticed that fireworks can be dangerous. Especially when that rocket lands on the neighbor’s roof and they retaliate with a rocket barrage of their own.But, this leads me to the fact that fireworks are very educational. Like the year my father taught some adolescents about a physics law.You see, we were parked in the family station wagon watching some fireworks and these boys were throwing their firecrackers at us. My father asked them ever so politely to stop and when they didn’t, my father demonstrated the physics law.You know, the one where a body at rest is moved when acted upon by an outside force. Yes, they were the bodies at rest, until my father’s car almost acted upon them. They were quite impressed and I’m sure they never forgot that particular physics law.Another thing fireworks taught me, is how doubling of force doubles distance. I was putting a firework under a tin can and watching it go five feet in the air. I decided two would make it go ten feet in the air. So then I decided to try five and have it go 25 feet in the air. And then, I figured out where all that junk orbiting the earth came from. Little boys learning laws of physics.Nowadays I don’t get to do much with fireworks. I usually watch a few go off on TV or maybe just a video of some old Love American Style reruns and maybe catch some out in the yard. But, if you really want to see some good ones, just put on a fireworks screen saver. Oh, wait if you do that, you won’t be reading my column.