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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
- About Us
And There Was Light
21 October 1999 7:00 pm
Thomas Edison unveiled the first incandescent light bulb, which burned for 40 hours, on this day in 1879. Although the idea for converting electricity into light was first investigated in 1848 by English physicist Sir Joseph Swan, Edison made it commercially viable. In a light bulb, electricity passes through a thin wire, which heats up and glows. Swan had trouble preventing the wire from oxidizing and quickly burning out.
When Edison turned to the problem in 1878, it was possible to make a bulb that had a good vacuum, thus protecting the filament from oxidation. Edison discovered that a charred length of cotton thread worked better than a wire. After demonstrating his light bulb, Edison invented the generating, switching, and transmitting devices needed to supply electricity to many bulbs at once. By 1882 his first power station was operating in New York City and lighting 400 incandescent bulbs for 85 customers.
[Source: Emily McMurray, Ed. Notable Twentieth Century Scientists. Gale Research Inc. ITP. 1995.]