Our souls will swell with splendor as we watch thousands of fireworks burst in the night, shooting up like hot comets then fanning out into brilliant umbrellas of twinkling light. Some of us have risked serious burns to the face and hands attempting to set them off and awe our friends.
Fireworks scare us—that’s why we love them
But what about fireworks makes them so appealing and euphoric? The answer might not be what you expect. Like lightning, the bright flashes warn us something—like the booming clap of thunder or the hollow pop of a firework—is about to happen. This activates the amygdala, a little ball of nerves in the brain that detects fear.
After the lights have stimulated the anticipation of a threat, the resounding crack of the firework confirms this perception in our brains. In response, our reward centers release a surge of dopamine—a chemical that regulates pleasure.
But why would something that we fear generate glee? According to Glaser, unlike the unbridled terror of the unknown, fireworks-induced fear is controlled.
After seeing these light-up shows over and over again, our brains anticipate the bang that comes after the flashes of light. This also explains why these celebratory pyrotechnics often terrify dogs.
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While we know a sound is coming after the firework takes flight, dogs are caught off guard by the sudden, loud noise. Glaser says suspension in music, a technique where a note is drawn out as the harmony beneath changes, has a similar effect.
Listen closely to classical composers like Bach. While prolonging a note, the harmony switches.
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The suspended notes create tension, compelling you to hang on until the next shift in harmony relieves you. But fireworks might also be especially mesmerizing to us because of their novelty.
We can thank metal salts for these neuron-stimulating hues. As these compounds heat up and eventually go ka-boom, the changes in color produce a dazzling effect—an ooh at the initial blazing beam, and an aah as the glittering tails dissolve in the dark.
Love of fireworks
Screens on computers and televisions are made up of red, green and blue pixels that our brain scrambles up, kind of like an artist mixing paint on a palette. The rapid fire pops and bright, new pigments force us to freeze as the brain investigates the sudden influx of sound and color. up to receive Popular Science's s and get the highlights.
Colorful fireworks of various colors over night sky Gino Santa Maria. It's probably bogus. Like science, tech, and DIY projects?