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Monday, July 3, 2017

Independence Day links

Want some inspiration? Read Lincoln's 1858 speech on the meaning of Independence Day: "Let us stick to it then. Let us stand firmly by it then." More excellent speeches from Coolidge (1926) and Reagan (1986). Video of the Reagan speech is here.


Journal of the American Revolutions' 10 Myths for the Fourth of July and Breaking News From 1776: First News Reports of Independence.

All about the Statue of Liberty.


Videos: The Science of Fireworks and of Barbecue

Kaboom! 10 Facts About Firecrackers That Will Blow You Away. Related: PBS's description of various fireworks effects, and a quiz.

America The Beautiful: the story of the song.


When in the course of human events... here's the full text of the Declaration of Independence.


Have a safe and happy Fourth of July!

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Video: The Science of Fireworks, some 18th century fireworks illustrations, and photographic advice

Washington College professor John Conkling, who is the former director of the American Pyrotechnics Association and the co-author of Chemistry of Pyrotechnics, breaks down the science of fireworks and offers a laboratory demonstration of various color fuels in action.



Atlas Obscura has an excellent gallery of antique illustrations of fireworks. Here are a couple, but go to the link to see the whole set:

This hand-colored etching illustrates a 1749 show celebrating the Aix la Chapelle peace treaty, which also featured the first performance of George Fredric Handel's "Music for the Royal Fireworks." Sadly, three spectators were killed during the show when a lit rocket shot into a stack of reserve fireworks and blew up a pavilion. (Image: Public Domain/WikiCommons)
A”Grand Display” over New York’s Hudson River illuminated the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge on May 24th, 1883. This celebratory chromolithograph was published by Currier & Ives. (Image: Library of Congress)
And there's this:

Designs for "pyrotechny," engraved by Andrew Bell
for the 1797 edition of the Encyclopedia Brittanica. 
Related, National Geographic has some pro tips on how to take good pictures of fireworks. 

Thermodynamics and chemistry: The Science Of Barbecue

Joe Hanson of It's OK To Be Smart (youtube channel) and Aaron Franklin, the owner of Franklin Barbecue in Austin, Texas discuss the thermodynamic and chemical science behind grilling meat.
In this week's video, I stop by the #1 BBQ joint in America (seriously, you can look it up) to learn about the science of BBQ!
By the way, here's Aaron Franklin brisket recipe and here's his series of video barbecue lessons. From his comments:
The science behind these things: how wood burns, how airflow works, if you start thinking of how fluid dynamics work inside the barbecue, science has a pretty huge part of it. I think good barbecue is a balance between science and gut instinct.


More on barbecue science here and here.

Previous posts with Joe Hanson components:

Valyrian steel, length of the seasons, dragon biology: The Science of Game of Thrones, bonus geological map