Why are fireworks so appealing?

They light up the sky with sparkle and colour. They explode with an appealing crisp bang. But what exactly happens to make firework displays so entertaining? That is the question being posed by the Royal Institution, as millions of people flock to Bonfire Night celebrations across the UK.

The RI asked Tom Smith - a pyrotechnics expert and author of Firework Displays: Explosive Entertainment - to explain some of the science behind the big bangs. Take five minutes to learn some of the basics here.

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All images subject to copyright. Images and graphics courtesy Tom Smith, Getty Images and Science Photo Library.

Music by Julie London, Queen, Robbie Williams and KPM Music.

Slideshow production by Paul Kerley. Publication date 4 November 2013.


Tom Smith's blog

Royal Institution

Gunpowder Plot - BBC History

Firework safety guide - BBC Newsround

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