Fire Chemistry

Mark Lukin, PhD

What is fire? From ancient times people were puzzled by its nature, considering it (along with water, earth and air) to be one of four basic elements everything the Universe is composed of. During our semilab, we will study the chemical bases of this process. The students will reproduce the basic experiments that lead XVIII century scientists to the understanding of the nature of this mysterious phenomenon. We will set up the experiment that establish a composition of air, prepare major components of air, oxygen and nitrogen, will analyse the major products of combustion. We will continue our study with the dissection of the mechanism of light emission by flame. That will lead us to the better understanding of the connection between chemistry and color. Based on this knowledge we will be able to reproduce basic experiments that had lead to discovery of many new chemical elements, and will learn how to detect very tiny traces of certain substances (a methodology that is currently used in most environmental and forensic labs). And, don’t forget that fire had always been an affecting spectacle. That means that the knowledge obtained during this semilab will allow us to design some showy experiment to present at closing ceremony