At any given time, somewhere on the planet someone wonders what would happen if. Creativity and imagination in the past led to the development of numerous inventions that benefited mankind. At other times, thinking outside of the box leads to amazing masterpieces of art. Then there are instances when spur of the moment decisions cause disastrous results and serve as cautionary tales. Such is the case with various stunts enacted by amateurs who feel the need to push the boundaries and video tape their efforts. However, one recent stunt captured on video displays the fascinating drama that unfolds when 6,000 wooden matchsticks are ignited.
For whatever reason, someone took the time to carefully stand and tightly align 6,000 matches on a level platform in a square formation. As one corner of the configuration is ignited, each matchstick lights the next until a large blinding white fireball starts spreading across the array. Magically, before the entire platform ignites, the single fireball divides into individual flames dancing upward. Over the course of 14 minutes, viewers watch in amazement as the flames crackle while continuing their seemingly choreographed journey of consuming all of the wood in the arrangement.
Dramatic moments arise as the matchsticks along the outer edges wilt, dropping small flames on what appears to be a wooden veneer counter or tabletop. Will the flames transform into a major blaze that spreads across the table and perhaps throughout the room? Surprisingly no. Each little flame takes its last gasp of oxygen before quickly extinguishing without leaving nary a smudge on the table’s surface.
Meanwhile, the mesmerizing crowd of flames slowly dissipates until only the center of the array remains lit. Occasionally, glowing smolders produce small blue flames that soon end in gentle streams of smoke. Toward the end of the scenario, a single, central flame remains. Soon, this flame too begins shrinking as it becomes starved for fuel. Finally, the last surviving flame extinguishes with a final puff of smoke. All that remains of the dazzling spectacle is a tangled arrangement of fragile wooden ashes that now resemble a swatch of black shag carpet.
Watching the display grow and transform while seemingly taking on a life of its own is strangely peaceful and calming. Not unlike being captivated by the flames consuming logs on a campfire. Sadly, without sufficient fuel to continue, the fire’s life soon ends.