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DVD Smith
1267312.  Tue Dec 19, 2017 4:13 am Reply with quote

The London New Year's Eve fireworks are coordinated using GPS satellites.

(Source for all the following info)

The fireworks display uses over 12,000 fireworks, fired from four separate firing panels. Each of these panels has an antenna connected to a GPS satellite, through which it receives the current time. This is done so that all four panels are synchronised to exactly the same time in order that the display can go off from all four as coordinated, in time with the music and with Big Ben. Because Big Ben is not synchronised to GPS (as of 2017, although according to The Simpsons we should have had a digital Elizabeth Tower for seven years by now) the display organisers also have to track Big Ben's chimes so that the display starts immediately as soon as the first bong of midnight is heard.

The London display to ring in 2014 was the first ever "multi-sensory" fireworks display, with smells, fruit flavours and over 40 kilograms of edible banana confetti scattered through the crowd to coordinate with the sights coming from the fireworks. Attendees were also given scratch-and-sniff cards and flavoured sweets to go along with the show. (Source)(Source 2)

Other fun facts about the NYE fireworks display:
  • Most of the fireworks come from three loaded barges on the Thames, which are loaded the night before, but 1500 fireworks are launched from the London Eye itself. These are all attached to the structure within four hours on December 31st, after the Eye is closed to visitors at 3pm.
  • As the display is set to music, the timing of the fireworks is extraordinarily accurate - there are over 5000 cues in the ten-minute display and launches can be accurate to one hundredth of a second. The final cue activates fireworks from 136 different positions at the same time.
  • A full computer-animated simulation of the display is produced and given to the BBC in advance so they can decide the best camera angles to use for broadcast (obviously no dry run is possible!).
  • Over 35 kilometres of cable is used for the display.

DVD Smith
1267313.  Tue Dec 19, 2017 4:33 am Reply with quote

In 1967, when The Who were performing on the Smothers Brothers show, they were tasked with destroying their instruments at the end of the performance. Keith Moon wanted to go out with a bang by blowing up his bass drum with pyrotechnics, but was unhappy with the effect that the technician had prepared - so he secretly put several times the recommended amount of cherry bombs in his drum. The resulting explosion sent cymbals flying and set Pete Townshend's hair on fire. (Source)

Video of the performance

(Note: the video says that Keith put ten times the recommended explosives in his drum, but the article says he used "three times the firepower". Not sure which is accurate.)

DVD Smith
1271466.  Sun Jan 21, 2018 9:22 am Reply with quote

Just been sent a video of the most spectacular firework I've ever seen, and it doesn't go bang or whoosh, or even leave the ground.

It's called a Pharaoh's Serpent, and is produced from a powder called mercury (II) thiocyanate. When this powder is lit, it produces a series of long snake-like tentacles seemingly coming out of the ground as if from a demonic portal, with some of the tentacles growing along their length. [1]

This happens because mercury (II) thiocyanate is what's known as an intumescent material, a substance that expands rapidly when exposed to heat. Intumescent materials are often used in fireproofing - buildings are coated with intumescent material so that if a fire occurs, the intumescent material expands and insulates the structural core of the building, protecting it from fire damage. [2]

The Pharaoh's Serpent is not performed anymore due to the toxicity of the mercury, but there are two safer versions called the carbon snake, which uses sugar and sulphuric acid, [3] and the black snake, which uses sugar and bicarbonate of soda. [4] Both of these produce a small black "tower" akin to the Pharaoh's Serpent, although not quite on the same spectacular scale.

Another chemical reaction that produces a tower out of seemingly nothing is the reaction between aluminium and mercury, which produces a white pillar of aluminium-mercury amalgam as the aluminium oxidises. (Video)

1271588.  Mon Jan 22, 2018 10:19 am Reply with quote

That's so cool!! I enjoyed the addition of the creepy music too

Bonus video for those who like aerial spectacles: this gif

1271602.  Mon Jan 22, 2018 12:29 pm Reply with quote

DVD wrote
Each of these has an antenna connected to a GPS satellite

Very long cables, I guess.
I presume you meant 'aligned with' or similar


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