Artificial Light’s Two Revolutions

December 31st, 2012 | by Michael Keller

On this day 133 years ago, New Year’s Eve of 1879, Thomas Edison demonstrated the first practical incandescent electric lamp. It wasn’t the first electric lamp nor was it the first to successfully harness incandescence, when a material gets so hot that it produces visible light.

But previous filaments, those threads of material that glow when electricity passes through, burned too hot and melted away too quickly. The lamps that encased them were not fully evacuated of oxygen, increasing the speed in which the filaments disintegrated. So the Edison design found a better material for the filament and used vacuum pumps to keep oxygen from reacting with and destroying them prematurely. We’re still using the socket he came up with back then.

But the point here isn’t to linger on the past. It is interesting, though, to think back to that lighting revolution when we are arguably in the midst of our own modern one.

And during this New Year’s Eve, a time naturally given to looking back and surveying ahead, it’s quite amazing to think of all the avenues of innovation that have either already started to take hold or might be part of our future.

Read more: txchnologist: artificial lights two revolutions.

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