Typical time required:
15 - 30 minutes
Humans have been using fire long before they understood how it works, and the taming of the flames has had great impacts throughout the history of our civilisations. From camp fires used to cook food and keep away wild animals, we moved on to oil lamps and candles for lighting, smoke signals for communication, and flame throwers and incendiary bombs for warfare.
The Fire Exhibition touches on all of those and more. What is fire, and what happens when something burns? How do matches, lighters and firecrackers work? What does fire have to do with cannons, explosives and car engines? And how does nature depend on fire? Find the answers at the Fire exhibition.
When some metals are exposed to a flame, they “stain” the flame with a colour that is characteristic for the metal used. This happens because when a metal atom is heated, the heat energy increases the energy level of some of its electrons. When it cools down again, these electrons drop back to their normal level, releasing the excess energy in the form of light. The wavelength – ie the colour – of that light depends on the amount of energy released, which is different for each metal.
The minimum temperature at which a substance bursts into flame without a spark or any other source of ignition is called the ignition point of that substance. Different materials have different ignition points. For example, paper will ignite at a lower temperature than wood.
Once on fire, the chemical reaction involved in burning, being exothermic, generates more than enough heat to keep the fire going. But there is an initial activation energy required to get the reaction started.
Fire Tornado Demonstration
The centrepiece of the Fire exhibition is the fire tornado, which comes to life once a day, during the Fire Tornado Demonstration. Please refer to the Shows and Demonstrations page for show timings.
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