How Do I See the End of 2013?

It is with some degree of sadness that I mark the passing of the incandescent light bulb.

Actually it is for one reason in particular – you could understand, and therefore teach others how a light bulb work. If you run electricity through a high resistance wire, the electric energy becomes heat and light.

You could tell your kids how Thomas Alva Edison knew he needed the resistance, and a vacuum would keep the filament from burning out immediately. How, as he tried different materials for the filament, he said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” How Edison then went on to invent many things – how to record sound, motion pictures, medical fluoroscopy and how these inventions spawned whole industries.

How it was this date in 1879 when Edison first demonstrated the light bulb to the public and that one of those basic light bulbs has been glowing almost continuously for 112 years.

How when you add a second electrode to an incandescent light bulb and you have a diode rectifier; add a third, making a triode that can amplify an electric signal – an important step leading to the proliferation of radio and eventually television.

What a great teaching tool!


Can you clearly explain how an energy efficient compact fluorescent bulb works? How about an LEDs (light emitting diode)?

Didn’t think so – me either.

3 responses to “How Do I See the End of 2013?

  1. Blessings to you, your family, and to your readership for a “wonder-filled” New Year!

  2. Its Magic, Pure Magic…. Now getting past the grin, explain how a LED bulb that boasts upwards of a 10,000 plus hour life is supposed to last 10 plus years? RoHS solder joints are only supposed to be reliable for 7 years. I have never had CFLs last any where as long as the advertised lifespans. I guess I have been gettin all the left side of the bell curve. About 2 years here.But with a house full of kids I have saved a pile of money and with that I rarely have to yell about leaving the lights on :). I am going to try a few LEDS next.

    • Tom,
      I’ve got another whole bag of CFCs to dispose of properly – big box hardware stores used to take them. I’ve also got about a dozen LED lights that suffered premature failure. We’ll get there, but sometimes I jump on the “bleeding edge” too soon. Have a wonderful New Year!

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