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Science, Maths & Technology

Fireworks Challenge Glossary

Updated Saturday, 21st July 2007

Some of the key terms associated with making fireworks

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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).





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