Modern lightbulbs may be getting slightly more environmentally conscious (or at least having unexpected things stuffed into them), but it's still equal parts impressive and depressing that a 100-year-old lightbulb discovered by GE (whose archives are pretty amazing) in a time capsule still works perfectly well when plugged into a circa-2012 socket. This one's a tungsten filament bulb, which was slowly brought up to 60 volts (plugging it into a regular 120-volt socket would probably not have been good) and gave off a healthy, century-old glow. Somehow though, we bet people in 1912 would have expected 2012 to be lit by something like this, not a slightly brighter and rounder version of their own bulb. Video after the jump.
In October, manufacturing 100-watt incandescent lightbulbs will become illegal under the U.S. Energy Independence and Security Act. As part of the same legislation, 60- and 40-watt ones will be banned by 2014. Compact fluorescents (CFLs) are the simplest-to-make replacement but contain the neurotoxin mercury, have a bluish hue, and don't illuminate instantly. The regulations are prompting lighting companies to develop new, environmentally friendly ways to produce light that have none of CFLs' downsides.
Before you can peer back in time 13.2 billion years, your telescope needs to be calibrated correctly, so you can be sure objects in your mirror are really as bright (and therefore as distant) as they appear. Astronomers have a few tricks to help them do this, including using light bulbs and distant stars. Now one astronomer has a simple calibration solution: put a light bulb in space.
For those who want to start saving the planet at home, lighting presents a vexing paradox. While incandescent bulbs are wildly inefficient, compact fluorescent bulbs contain hazardous chemicals. With funding from the Department of Energy, RTI International claims to have solved the problem with the invention of nanofiber bulbs more efficient than regular lights, and more environmentally sound than fluorescent bulbs.
Almost every day, we see so-called "upgrades" to technologies that really don't need the extra attention. Plenty of everyday gadgets haven't changed much since they were introduced or invented, because, well, they work just fine the way they are. And trying to improve on something that's already at the top of the food chain is a) a waste of time and b) likely to just make it worse for the wear. Companies need to face facts: there are technologies (like these five) that are practically perfect just as they are.
A new kind of energy-efficient light bulb may provide an alternative to existing compact fluorescent (CFL) and Light Emitting Diode (LED) bulbs. The new bulbs, made by Seattle-based Vu1, use a technology called electron stimulated luminescence (ESL) to produce incandescent-quality light.
The ESL bulbs generate light by firing electrons to stimulate phosphor, and the whole setup is encased in normal light-bulb glass. The bulbs are estimated to last up to 6,000 hours, which is comparable to CFLs, and three to four times as long as incandescent bulbs.