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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
Since arriving on the island of Guam in the 1940s, the brown tree snake ( Boiga irregularis ) has extirpated native...
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
- 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.]