Let There Be Light

As I ran my errands today, I made a quick stop at Ace Hardware to buy some light bulbs. It was anything but quick. As I stood in the two-sided, 50-ft. long light bulb aisle, I had that puzzled look on my face, enough that the Ace Hardware guy came over and asked if he could help.

I soon entered an alternate world, a sort of “Light Bulbs 101,” instruction for dummies like me who haven’t been shopping for light bulbs lately and haven’t a clue about new light bulb technology. Apparently, you have to have a PhD. to understand this stuff.

There’s incandescent, compact fluorescent and LED, oh my. And it helps if you know about watts and lumens, tubes and electrodes, phosphor and diodes, semiconductors, filaments, halogen and HID. And what about the color of your bulb? Do you want soft white, warm, bright or daylight? Oh, and if your bulb is going to be used with a dimmer switch, then you have to take “Dimmer Switch Bulbs 101.” Manufacturers have even created bulbs that turn on and off with voice recognition. Who knew. But I miss the days when a light bulb was just a light bulb.

I’m reminded of the longest burning light bulb in history which is still burning in Fire Station #6 in Livermore. It’s known as the “Centennial Light,” located at 4550 East Avenue, maintained by the Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Dept. That bulb has been burning for 117 years and has only been turned off a handful of times. It’s even marked in the Guinness Book of World Records and Ripley’s Believe it or not. Now, that’s a light bulb!

Click here to watch Livermore’s Centennial “Bulb Cam.”   http://centennialbulb.org

Written by Susan 5/2/18

6 thoughts on “Let There Be Light”

  1. Amazing! I wonder how the scientists explain this. As I watched it refresh a couple of times I thought it would be quite unusual if it suddenly went out… That the filament finally broke. Funny how we always make it about ourselves.

  2. Thanks, Jim. I read that they think the reason the Livermore bulb has lasted so long is because it’s only been turned off a couple of times. Apparently, it’s the turning on and off that wears out the filament. Fascinating, indeed.

  3. Susan, I just read this piece about the light bulb, and you inspired
    me to go to “Longest Living Lightbulb” website. There, I had the pleasure of watching people gleefully sing, “Happy Birthday” to a burning carbon filament encased in glass!! We humans are fascinating, sentimental creatures, aren’t we? Thanks for keeping
    your eyes on the world Susan, and for sharing your insights with us!

    1. Eric, thank you so much for your friendship and for your ongoing support with regard to my blog. We are, indeed, fascinating creatures.

  4. Brad, thanks for commenting. I might steal your “no longer in the dark” line. Wish I’d thought of it.

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