It's July 4th, 2020. Up until now, this has been one of my least favorite holidays. Fireworks are not that impressive to me and huge crowds of people, packed into small spaces tend to make me feel uncomfortable. But today is different.
Today, they are demonstrating the newest in firework technology. No longer will the aftermath of the festivities include burned, charred ash and papers from explosives, foul fumes from scorched lycopodium and other chemicals or even injured people from misfires.
The air is alit with nanobuds, churning up their effect modules, sparkling in anticipation. The little machines, powered by static electricity and radio waves are light as air. They join intermittently, clustering into larger machines, falling as they grow in weight, then breaking apart to regain height. When finished with the show, they will all coalesce into a few large blocks, safely deposited on a launch pad the size of a lunchbox. There are billions of them, floating through the air, surrounding the park.
The music starts. With a ferrofluidic grace, the machines dance, light, combine and dismantle, pulsing with the ambient rhythm. They fly higher than fireworks ever could before and much lower--dancing safely just above our heads or flying with the wind high above. As the wind hits the particles, they flow with it but they use their ability to connect with each other to balance out, lest they be blown and scattered away.