This year the University of East Anglia celebrates 50 splendid years. As part of the celebrations we are holding a Festival weekend on the 28th and 29th of September and on the evening of the 28th we will erupt the volcano.
A group of us have been lucky enough to receive funding to do this from the Alumni UEA Annual Fund.
Why have a volcano at a Birthday Party ?
Volcanoes have the ability to inspire and amaze. They are the perfect interdisciplinary mix of science and (natural) art as befits a university that has founded itself on making connections. Plus, everyone likes their birthday parties to go with a bang!
Making volcanoes erupt with fireworks has previous as well; there was a short-lived fad(*) in the 18th century to recreate some of the excitement of the Italian volcanoes like Etna and Stromboli for those who couldn’t afford ‘The Grand Tour.’ (or just wanted to relive its ‘best bits’ without the benefit of youtube). One of these has recently been re-created by some German firework experts but we want to make it erupt accurately, and more violently– our volcano needs to look close to the real thing. Our other goal is to involve as many people and topics as possible (just like the university) and to be the most talked about thing at the party, even if they do invite Coldplay again.
To help us out, we are delighted to have found a proper firework maker, Edwin Samkin from EventFX Ltd. He is no ordinary firework maker but a pyrotechnician, and a pyrotechnician who specialises in all sorts of effects that might come in handy in making a volcano erupt. Like the Olympic effects? Then you might love the things that erupt from Norfolk’s Firework Volcano…
Over the next few months, we’ve just got a few ground rules
(1) We need to build a volcano that is exactly like a real volcano. This means we will need to choose one and make a scale model.
(2) We’d like to produce a range of effects but mainly those that are reasonably true to the volcano’s behaviour.
(3) We want to use the volcano to develop some interesting outreach activities that engage children across a range of subjects from science to art.
(4) We have a good number of volcanologists at UEA but we want to engage researchers and undergraduates from as many different disciplines from across the university as possible: for example volcanoes appear in mythology, books and films; destroy ecosystems and change the climate. Can we draw them in?
Lots of challenges ahead, lots of fun to be had. Stay tuned and hang onto your seats!
(*) I first heard about this from Adrian Teal when he was researching his Gin Lane Gazette.