A cracker of a talk

By The Guide Team | Mumbai

Updated: Oct 14, 2019, 08:01 IST

Find out what it is that makes fireworks so colourful and sparkling at a fun science session

Some firecrackers explode like bombs. Others let out pretty sprinkles of light. Some whoosh into the sky and burst into colours. And then there are those that go round and round like a circle of fire enveloping the ground. People enjoy crackers of many different types every Diwali. But there is one common factor that binds them together despite their varied functions, and that factor is science.

That's because each firecracker gets its unique personality based on the metals, gases and salts that feature on the periodic table. So this being the International Year of the Periodic Table, and it being only a couple of weeks from Diwali, there is a talk scheduled at a Matunga college where attendees will get an insight into what these wondrous chemicals are.

Surendra Kulkarni, technical director at Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), will host the session as part of Chai and Why? TIFR's outreach programme. He tells us, "The bright incandescence in some crackers is due to metals like ion, aluminum and magnesium which, when taken to a higher energy level, exhibit blinding flashes. They are powdered and put into things like phuljharis and anars, whereas the colorful displays you see in the sky are due to various salts of elements like sodium chloride and lithium. These are the things that we will highlight."

There will also be demonstrations where Kulkarni will help the attendees make a single-matchstick rocket, which, if done properly, can cross a distance of 70 feet. "We'll also have a section that will explain alcohol-based rockets, which are called whoosh rockets," he reveals.

S Kulkarni

He adds that despite it being true that fireworks release harmful particulate matter into the air, they are given undue level of blame for pollution since the damage from vehicles and plastic is way worse. "But at the same time I will certainly call for a safe Diwali, in terms of exercising caution and understanding if there are infants around you or if there are students in the vicinity studying for their exams," Kulkarni says, articulating a sentiment we will leave you with as well.

On October 20, 11 am onwards
At DG Ruparel College of Arts, Science and Commerce, Tulsi Pipe Road, Mahalaxmi Sindhi Colony, Matunga Western.
Call 24303733

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