Science, Maths & Technology
Author:

# Fireworks Challenge Glossary

Updated Saturday, 21st July 2007

Some of the key terms associated with making fireworks

This page was published over five years ago. Please be aware that due to the passage of time, the information provided on this page may be out of date or otherwise inaccurate, and any views or opinions expressed may no longer be relevant. Some technical elements such as audio-visual and interactive media may no longer work. For more detail, see our Archive and Deletion Policy

Hot gases - Carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and nitrogen.

Wavelengths - A wavelength is the distance from one wave crest to the next.

Atomic emission comes from sodium atoms. This emission, which is very strong relative to the other emitters, occurs at a wavelength of 589 nm (nanometres).

Molecular emissions comes from molecules - groups of atoms joined together.

Electrons - Small, negatively charged particles.

Photons - Light and electromagnetic radiation is emitted and absorbed in packets of energy called photons.

Black Body - A body capable of absorbing and radiating all wavelengths.

Propellant - Made by a lifting powder. The lifting powder will shoot the firework into the sky in the form of a rocket or else ignite producing an explosion and/or trail of beautiful colours as in a Roman Candle.

Effect - The effect is normally a 'star' and comprises the compounds that produce the colours. This is the part of the firework that goes up in the air. The star is not made into a specific shape or size and is usually not star-shaped, however, when it burns it has the appearance of a star.

Velocity - The velocity of an object is the measure of its speed, defined as the distance covered during a set time period. Velocity is measured in metres per second (ms-1).

Acceleration - The acceleration of an object describes the changes in its velocity. Acceleration is measured in metres per second (ms-2).

Force - The force of an object is determined by its mass multiplied by its acceleration. Force is measured in Newtons (N).