Celebrate America’s Birthday with Natural Fireworks: Hawaii’s Volcanoes

The entire universe in blog form
July 4 2013 8:00 AM

Happy Birthday, America!

Hawaii volcano lava flow
Some states take their fireworks literally.

Photo by QT Luong, from the video

My fellow Americans: I can’t think of a better way to honor our nation’s birthday than to watch natural fireworks erupting from our newest state. Turn up the volume, make this full screen, and watch Hawaii’s volcanoes celebrate the Fourth of July.

The photographer, QT Luong, has details about the video on the Vimeo page. You should also check out his web page, Terra Galleria, which has thousands of stunning photographs. These are seriously beautiful.


I just returned from a vacation in Oregon where I was surrounded by volcanoes, and it was truly amazing. When we left, and started our drive, for hours—once we were tuned to it—we could see the landscape sculpted by ancient and recent eruptions. Layers of lava swept over the land for hundreds of kilometers, and created eastern Oregon as we know it today.

Volcanoes are a powerful and majestic force that shaped a vast amount of America’s geography. That’s something worth knowing, on this day when we celebrate our country.

Tip o' the caldera to Joe Hanson at It's OK to Be Smart.

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  



More Than Scottish Pride

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 

What Charles Barkley Gets Wrong About Corporal Punishment and Black Culture

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

Three Talented Actresses in Three Terrible New Shows

Why Do Some People See the Virgin Mary in Grilled Cheese?

The science that explains the human need to find meaning in coincidences.


Happy Constitution Day!

Too bad it’s almost certainly unconstitutional.

Is It Worth Paying Full Price for the iPhone 6 to Keep Your Unlimited Data Plan? We Crunch the Numbers.

What to Do if You Literally Get a Bug in Your Ear

  News & Politics
Sept. 16 2014 7:03 PM Kansas Secretary of State Loses Battle to Protect Senator From Tough Race
Sept. 16 2014 4:16 PM The iPhone 6 Marks a Fresh Chance for Wireless Carriers to Kill Your Unlimited Data
The Eye
Sept. 16 2014 12:20 PM These Outdoor Cat Shelters Have More Style Than the Average Home
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus Video
Sept. 16 2014 2:06 PM A Farewell From Emily Bazelon The former senior editor talks about her very first Slate pitch and says goodbye to the magazine.
Brow Beat
Sept. 16 2014 8:43 PM This 17-Minute Tribute to David Fincher Is the Perfect Preparation for Gone Girl
Future Tense
Sept. 16 2014 6:40 PM This iPhone 6 Feature Will Change Weather Forecasting
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 16 2014 11:46 PM The Scariest Campfire Story More horrifying than bears, snakes, or hook-handed killers.
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.