How Fireworks Helped Spark a Scientific Revolution

The Shock and Awe of Pyrotechnic Displays Boosted Understanding of the Natural World

Night falls. A crowd assembles. A kaleidoscope of exploding colors and noise entertains us to the sound of oohs and aahs. All around the world, throughout the year, fireworks dazzle, as pyrotechnic performers create a wide assortment of patterns in the dark sky—from starbursts to smiley faces. Fireworks mostly seem to be a matter of beauty and awe. But in previous eras, fireworks had a different, less familiar role. They contributed to nothing less than the scientific revolution and the birth of modern science.

By the 16th and 17th centuries—when …

L.A. County Fire Captain Drew Smith

Sorry to Disappoint, But We’re Not Having As Much Fun in the Firehouse As You Think

Captain Drew Smith has been with the Los Angeles County Fire Department since 1988. Before participating in a panel on L.A. and the Santa Ana Winds—he’s fought Santa Ana-driven fires …

L.A.’s Dread Winds of Autumn

The Santa Anas Keep Blowing Our Minds

You know them when you feel them, or when you hear them blowing through the trees. They’ve cut out your power or even threatened your home. And you can quote …