Who Invented the Lightbulb? August 24, 2009Posted by Dr. Z Bulbs in Weird Bulb News, Light bulbs in pop culture, light bulb, incandescent light bulb.
Tags: lightbulb, incandescent lightbulb, incandescent light bulb, light, light bulbs, light bulb, incandescent lightbulb ban, Thomas Edison, who invented the light bulb, light bulb conspiracy, invention of the light bulb
Zoinks! Its me Dr. Z! Thomas Edison invented the light bulb, right? Well not so fast! The article below discusses the history and mystery behind the invention of the light bulb.
Surprising Science: Who Invented the Lightbulb? Edison’s incandescent lamp lit the world, but did he really invent it? (Copyright Lee Krystek, 2002.) It was Thomas Edison in 1879, wasn’t it? That’s what many people think and were taught in school. Like most stories, however, there is a lot more behind the creation of this important and ubiquitous object than just Mr. Edison.. The story of the lightbulb really starts almost seventy years earlier. In 1806 Humphrey Davy, an Englishman, demonstrated a powerful electric lamp to the Royal Society. Davy’s lamp produced its illumination by creating a blinding electric spark between two charcoal rods. This device, known as an “arc lamp,” was impractical for most uses. The light, similar to that of a welding torch, was simply too bright to be used in residences and most businesses. The device also needed a tremendous source of power and the batteries which powered Davy’s demonstration model were quickly drained. As time went on, electric generators were invented that could feed the arc lamp’s need for power. Iit found its way into applications where a brilliant source of light was needed. Lighthouses and public assembly areas were obvious uses. Later arc lamps were used in war to power huge searchlights used to spot enemy planes. Today you can see such searchlights lighting up the sky near movie theaters or at the opening of a new stores. The Incandescant Light Some 19th century inventors wanted to find a way to “subdivide” the light from Davy’s arc lamp so that it could be used in the home and office. Other scientists thought that a completely new technique for making electric light held more promise. This method of generating light was known as “incandescence.” Scientists knew that if you took some materials and passed enough electricity through them, they would heat up. They also knew that if the material got hot enough, it would start to glow. The problem with this method of making light was that before long either the material would burst into flame or melt into a puddle. If incandescent light was to be made practical, these twin problems would have to be solved. It occurred to inventors that one way to keep their incandescent “burners” from catching fire was to not let them come into contact with oxygen. Oxygen is a necessary ingredient in the combustion process. Since oxygen is in the atmosphere, the only way to keep it away from the burners was to enclose the burner in a glass container, or “bulb,” and pump out the air. In 1841 a British inventor named Frederick DeMoleyns patented a bulb using just this technique in combination with burners made of platinum and carbon. An American named J. W. Starr also received a patent in 1845 for a bulb using vacuum in conjunction with a carbon burner. Many others, including an English chemist named Joseph Swan, improved and patented versions of bulbs using a vacuum with burners of various materials and shapes. None, however, proved practical for everyday use. Swan’s lamp, for example, used carbonized paper that would quickly crumble after being lit a short time. Edison Joins the Fray It was obvious, though, that incandescent lighting would be a huge financial success if it could be perfected, so many inventors continued to work on finding a solution. It was into this environment that the brash, young, inventor Thomas Alva Edison entered the race to make-a-better-bulb in 1878. Edison was already world famous for having created and commercialized several items, including a better stock market ticker and the phonograph. In October of that year, after working on the project for only a few months, he declared to the newspapers “I have just solved the problem of the subdivision of the electric light.” This rash pronouncement was enough to drive the stocks of the gas companies (whose lamps supplied the current form of lighting) down into the ground. As it turned out, Edison’s announcement was premature. He had an idea of how to solve the problems of the electric incandescent light, but had not yey perfected it. His idea was to enclose a platinum burner in a vacuum. When other inventors had done this the platinum melted, but Edison thought he had solved that problem by building a temperature-sensitive switch into the bulb that would cut off the current when the temperature got too high. This was a great idea, but unfortunately it didn’t work. To keep the bulbs cool enough, the switches had to cut the current off very quickly. This resulted in a constant flickering which made the bulbs unusable (this same switching principle is currently used in Christmas tree bulbs to make them blink on and off). It was soon obvious to everyone working on the incandescent light at Edison’s Menlo Park laboratory that another approach was needed. Edison decided to hire a young physicist named The brash, young inventor Thomas Alva Edison. Francis Upton from Princeton University to work on the project. Up to this point Edison’s staff had been trying idea after idea to get the bulb to work. Under Upton’s guidance, they started looking at existing patents and research to try and avoid repeating other people’s mistakes. The staff also started doing basic research on the properties of the materials they had been working with. One of the results of testing the properties of the materials was the realization that any burner chosen would have to have a high electrical resistance. All materials have an amount of electrical “friction” that resists electricity moving through it. This is known as the material’s electrical resistance. Materials with high resistance more easily get hot when electricity passes through them. Edison soon realized that any good burner would have to have a high electrical resistance, otherwise too much electricity would be needed to warm the material to the point where it would give off light. This revelation meant that Edison’s staff need only to test high-resistance materials to find the one they wanted. This information also started Edison thinking about the electric lights not only as an end to themselves, but how they fit as part of a whole electrical system. How big would the generator need to be to light a neighborhood? What voltage should be delivered to a house? By October of 1879 Edison’s workers began to see some results. On the 22nd of that month a thin, cotton “carbonized” thread burned for some 13 hours during an experiment. Longer times were achieved by modifying the vacuum pumps and creating a better vacuum inside the bulb (less oxygen inside the bulb slowed the burning process). More carbonized organic materials were tested and Japanese bamboo proved to be the best. By the end of 1880 Edison’s carbonized bamboo burners, now called filaments because they were fashioned into a long, thin thread, were burning in bulbs as long as 600 hours. The “filament” proved to be the best shape to increase the materials electrical resistance and physical strength. The carbonized bamboo had a high resistance and fit well into Edison’s scheme for building a whole electrical power system to provide lighting. By 1882 he had established the Edison Electrical Light Company which had a generating station located on Perl Street, providing New York City with electrical lighting. In 1883 Macy’s in New York City became the first store to install the new incandescent lamps. Edison Vs. Swan Meanwhile over in England, Joseph Swan had again gotten involved in working on the lightbulb after he saw that new pumps made it possible to produce a better vacuum. Swan made a lamp which worked well for demonstrations, but was impractical in actual use. Swan’s burner was made of a thick carbon rod that gave off gases that soon covered the inside of the bulb in soot. Also, the low resistance of the rod meant that the bulb used up too much power. After seeing the success of a high resistance, thin filament in Edison’s lamps, Swan incorporated this improvement into his own bulbs. After founding his own company in England, Swan found himself sued by Edison for patent infringement. Eventually the two inventors decided to stop fighting and join forces. The company they formed, Edison-Swan United, became one of the world’s largest manufacturer of lightbulbs. An early Edison power generation plant. So did Edison invent the lightbulb? Not really. Others had produced an incandescent light before him. He did, however, create the first practical lightbulb along with an electrical system to support it, certainly a significant achievements in their own right. Of all the inventions Edison was involved in – the stock ticker, the phonograph, the telegraph and the mimeograph – only the incandescent lightbulb remains in general use today. It is a testament to how great a job Edison and his workers at Menlo Park did in taking this invention out of the laboratory and putting it into the home.
European backlash toward incandescent ban! August 24, 2009Posted by Dr. Z Bulbs in cfl, compact fluorescent, incandescent light bulb, light bulb.
Tags: cfl, compact fluorescent, compact fluorescent light bulb, compact fluorescent shape, Energy saving, energy saving bulb, energy saving compact light bulb, energy saving light bulb, energy saving lighting, european light bulb ban, Financial times, fluorescent, fluorescent light bulb, fluorescent lighting, green, incandescent ban europe, incandescent light bulb, incandescent lightbulb, incandescent lightbulb ban, light, light bulb, light bulbs, lightbulb, spiral, spiral light bulb, Technology of a light bulb
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Zoinks! Here is an article from the Financial Times discussing the backlash in Europe concerning the legistlation banning incandescent light bulbs. Seems that they are hoarding the little buggers!
Germans fail to see the light on bulbs By Daniel Schäfer in Frankfurt Published: August 22 2009 03:00 | Last updated: August 22 2009 03:00 Germans, Austrians and Hungarians are hoarding energy-hungry light bulbs, which have fallen out of favour in other European countries, ahead of a European Union ban that takes effect next month. The scramble for conventional bulbs illuminates the challenges of persuading consumers to embrace environmentally friendly shopping habits – particularly in the midst of an economic crisis. Sales of incandescent light bulbs have risen 34 per cent year-on-year in Germany in the first six months of 2009, data from GfK, the German consumer research group, shows. In most other European countries, sales of old-style light bulbs have fallen at double-digit rates this year. In the UK, sales dropped 22 per cent, amid a voluntary agreement between retailers and energy companies to phase out light bulbs nine months ahead of the EU ban. Last year, the UK experienced a similar tendency to stockpile light bulbs ahead of the voluntary ban that came into effect in January. Christian Schraft, head of the consumer division at Osram, one of Europe’s largest lighting producers owned by engineering group Siemens, said he had been taken aback by Germany’s reluctance to accept energy-saving bulbs. “Germans are often sceptical about innovations. And in difficult economic times in particular, they tend to stick to what is tried and tested,” Mr Schraft said. The hoarding instinct has been heightened by an EU rule change that comes into effect in September, banning 100-watt bulbs and widely used pearl bulbs from store shelves. The move will be followed by further phase-out steps, until ultimately all conventional bulbs will be banned in four years’ time. The shopping behaviour appears to contradict the stereotypes of Germans and Austrians as environmentally conscious. But Hans-Georg Häusel, a psychologist who uses brain science to explain consumer behaviour, said they were reluctant to change. “There is a fear that they could destroy the snug atmosphere of their homes,” he said.
Dr. Z wins 3rd place in the Mighty Boosh video contest! August 12, 2009Posted by Dr. Z Bulbs in Weird Bulb News.
Tags: bbc comedy, dance contest, dr z, mighty boosh, Mighty Boosh Dance Contest, zbulbs
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Zoinks! We won! What you may ask?? 3rd place in the BBC’s Mighty Boosh video dance contest! Still don’t know what I’m talking about? Well… just watch the video..