As many of you will know some of us Brits have an annual celebration of a terrorist plot foiled during which we let off fireworks and burn an effigy of the alleged protagonist Guy Fawkes on a bonfire, and if it’s a primary school event eat burgers and hotdogs (long gone are the days of toffee apples and buttered baked potatoes of my childhood, sadly).
Moreover perennially it’s essential that science journalists trot out the clever chemistry behind the wonderful colourful displays of fireworks that will be spreading their glow tonight across the UK. Occasionally and with greater novelty the sounds, the snaps, crackles, pops and bongs get a mention as in this excellent update from Compound Interest. Then there is that other evergreen story with the conspiracy theory tinge to make your “Anonymous” mask blush, the one about whether or not Catholic Guy Fawkes was actually the guilty party in the 1605 plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament with the Protestant King James I on the throne or whether he was the original fall guy, a bleating scapegoat or merely the hired muscle who carried the barrels of gunpowder.
National Civil War Centre in October – Guy Fawkes – just a fall guy?
The BBC in 2014 – Was Guy Fawkes a fall guy?
The Independent in 2013 – Guy Fawkes 2013: From timid testicles to gunpowder plot truthers
Huffington Post 2012 – The truth about Guy Fawkes
John Paul Davis 2010 – Pity for the Guy