Why do we like fireworks so much?

There was a time when fireworks were only heard on Bonfire Night and New Year's. Now you see them at weddings, festivals, or in a neighbour's garden when you're trying to sleep.

But they have special importance in Plymouth, the home of the British Firework Championships. Every August brings the best 'firers' in the UK to entertain huge crowds with a lightshow reflected in the Sound. But why are we so entranced?

Dr Roy Lowry, Associate Professor of Chemistry at Plymouth, has been moonlighting as a firer for ten years and brings pyrotechnics into the classroom, earning him the nickname 'Rocket Man'.

"They create the 'wow', which enables me to follow up with the 'hows'," he explains. "Why talk about how fireworks are created when you can make six feet of flame? Experiments like this are the shop window for science." He also suggests the transience of fireworks is another reason we love them. Blink and you miss it.

Slow motion ping pong ball explosion

See the 'Rocket Man' in action on campus, using some serious 'wows' to explain the 'hows'.