[BLANK] As ART #3, Nature

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So at this point we have reached the understanding that “art” is emotional. If for some reason you have not been privy to the first two posts in regards to redefining art, then please take a moment to scroll back through the blogs, don’t worry we will wait.

[Blank] As Art #1                      [Blank] As Art #2

Ok, is everybody back? Let’s proceed.

Art is so much more than colors on canvas, a sculpture of a figure in time or a charcoal sketch of a bowl of fruit. Art is where we go to escape, to take a break from the daily grind of life and find the peace and solitude needed in order for us to tune back into our soul. By this simple criterion, is there anything in the universe more fitting to be dubbed “art” than nature? We think not.

Nature is the very essence of art. When one communes with nature the points of conscience and sub-conscience are alerted in our bodies as they align and tune. Our chakras open up and a steady circular current of positive energy flows in a snake-like pattern from one to the other. Sorry, I actually just slipped into mini-mediation.

Buddhist monks use the mantra and meditative chant of Ohm, but do you know what Ohm is? Ohm is the natural sound that our planet makes when one quiets their mind enough to hear it. It is literally the electrical hum of energy that radiates from our planet. Guess where the monks came to hear this sound? NATURE, correct.

Mother Nature herself is the world’s oldest artist and everything she touches is her brush to canvas. A sunset over a mountain range or the wind swept patterns in a sand dune, are exactly the feeling that millions of artists have been trying to recreate for centuries, and she nails it every time without trying.

Watch any documentary on any animal species in our kingdom and report back to me if their existence is not art. In the animal world, there are instincts and patterns of how they manage their survival and often their intricate markings as a painter’s pallet. Our human skin is boring by compression.

There will be naysayers always, and while I believe that to argue against nature as art is as feeble as arguing that fire is not hot, or water not wet, I do reserve one final example that is a “drop the mic, walk away” moment. The Aurora Borealis (The Northern Lights) is the sweeping green, yellow and red lights that swoosh across our magnetic poles. “Auroras are produced when the Magnetosphere is sufficiently disturbed by the Solar Wind that the trajectories of charged particles in both Solar wind and magnetospheric pressure, mainly in the form of electrons and protons, precipitate them into the upper atmosphere (thermosphere/exosphere), where their energy is lost. The resulting ionization and excitation of atmospheric constituents emits light of varying color” (thanks, Wikipedia).

 

So there you have it, nature is art in the rawest and untethered sense. Anywhere you look in nature, you are sure to be emotionally swayed in one direction or another, and that is how I define “art”.

Do You Want To Love Fireworks Again?

fireworks blog

The smoke is beginning to clear from our recent explosive holiday and as you head over to your social medias to unload the barrage of red, white and blue family pictures, you find solace in the fact that you will go another six months before New Years Eve rolls around and the next obligatory round of pyrotechnics start all over again.

Ok, so I am a little bit of a curmudgeon when it comes to fireworks. The crowds, the cold and the boredom fought with clinched fists only to gaze star-ward at something that you have seen a hundred times and has never changed. Can’t we just stay home and set fire to some stuff around the house? But wait…there is hope. A friend of mine suggested that I look at the marvel of fireworks from a scientific perspective. What a novel concept. So I will share with you exactly how I breathed a little life back into my fading interest in our pyrotechnic holidays by doing a little research.

According to John Conckling chemistry professor at Washington College in Chestertown, Md., and past executive director of the American Pyrotechnics Association all fireworks have two essential ingredients.

  1. A chemical that’s rich in oxygen (this is where the color comes from)
  2. A chemical that serves as the fuel and results in when detonation occurs

The actual makeup of a firework contains five parts to pull off the ooh and aah factor!

  1. Stick (“tail”): A long wooden or plastic stick protruding from the bottom that ensures the firework shoots in a straight line.
  2. Fuse: This is the part that starts the main part of the firework (the charge) burning and ignites other, smaller fuses that make the interesting, colorful parts of the firework (the effects) explode some time later.
  3. Charge (“motor”): The charge is a relatively crude explosive designed to blast a firework up into the sky, sometimes a distance of 1000 feet at a speed of up to several hundred miles per hour It’s usually made up of tightly packed, coarse explosive gunpowder (also known as black powder).
  4. Effect: This is the part of the firework that makes the amazing display once the firework is safely high in the air. A single firework will have either one effect or multiple effects, packed into separate compartments, firing off in sequence, ignited by a relatively slow-burning, time-delay fuse working its way upward and ignited by the main fuse.
  5. Head: This is the general name for the top part of the firework containing the effect or effects collectively known as the payload

Well, then how do we get those amazing colors?

According to Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D. and Chemistry Expert “There are two main mechanisms of color production in fireworks, incandescence, and luminescence”. “Incandescence is light produced from heat. Heat causes a substance to become hot and glow, initially emitting infrared, then red, orange, yellow, and white light as it becomes increasingly hotter and luminescence is light produced using energy sources other than heat. Sometimes luminescence is called ‘cold light’ because it can occur at room temperature and cooler temperatures. To produce luminescence, energy is absorbed by an electron of an atom or molecule, causing it to become excited, but unstable. When the electron returns to a lower energy state the energy is released in the form of a photon (light). The energy of the photon determines its wavelength or color.”

Thanks to our friends at about.com, here is a list of the chemical compounds inside fireworks that give us that dazzling effect!

 

Color Compound
Red strontium salts, lithium salts
lithium carbonate, Li2CO3 = red
strontium carbonate, SrCO3 = bright red
Orange calcium salts
calcium chloride, CaCl2
calcium sulfate, CaSO4·xH2O, where x = 0,2,3,5
Gold incandescence of iron (with carbon), charcoal, or lampblack
Yellow sodium compounds
sodium nitrate, NaNO3
cryolite, Na3AlF6
Electric White white-hot metal, such as magnesium or aluminum
barium oxide, BaO
Green barium compounds + chlorine producer
barium chloride, BaCl+ = bright green
Blue copper compounds + chlorine producer
copper acetoarsenite (Paris Green), Cu3As2O3Cu(C2H3O2)2 = blue
copper (I) chloride, CuCl = turquoise blue
Purple mixture of strontium (red) and copper (blue) compounds
Silver burning aluminum, titanium, or magnesium powder or flakes

So in six months when the next round of fireworks appear and the greater group is against you sitting at home and setting stuff around the house on fire, just go and view the spectacular with a scientist’s eye. Sure you will still have to fight the boredom of the before, the possible cold, the crowds and the fact that tomorrow is a work day, but the show itself will hold all of your attention and more.