Over a thousand years ago, Chinese alchemists created an early form of gunpowder. Made primarily of potassium nitrate, sulfur and charcoal, the ingredients were packed into bamboo shoots and thrown into the fire. The idea was that the subsequent explosion of noise and light would ward off evil spirits.

A millennium later, we use this same basic concept to paint the night sky with a myriad of patterns and colours for pure enjoyment. The practise is so integral to our collective sense of celebration that barely an eyelid is batted at the $45,000 per minute price tag attached to the iconic Sydney Harbour new years fireworks.