Friday, July 28, 2017

Let There Be Light

Light. When we speak of someone understanding something, we often speak of "lighting up their mind" or "coming into the light" of knowledge. Light illuminates the dark corners, allows daytime activities to take place at night, and provides security and comfort during the dark hours or in dark places. Humans need light for our own physical and mental well-being. In general, lighting has been improving steadily since the gas streetlights and kerosene lanterns of the 1800's, and is now brighter and safer than ever before.

The original Edison light bulb was first brought to
the general public eye by one of his employees who
wanted a safer holiday tree. He strung several
of these together for his tree and a crowd gathered
in front of his house every night to look at them.
These were MUCH safer than the candles in use
until then. 

Many of you have been around for several incarnations of the lowly light bulb. We're not using the original filament light bulb of Edison, we're using much fancier ones now. What brings light bulbs to mind this early morning? My pool was rewired and new light fixtures were installed overnight between Wednesday and Thursday. Yesterday's swim was WAY BRIGHT and I'm not sure I approve.

Incandescent light bulbs came in a variety of sizes and
lumen production. Well suited for a multitude of
environments and applications, they became the primary
form of electrical lighting for almost a century. 

Incandescent lights cast a yellow-toned light. The light itself is warm and welcoming, but the bulbs burned out often, needing replacement on a regular basis. Office buildings switched their ceiling lights over the fluorescent tubes years ago, but there was no good household alternative. Until this century. Several years ago compact fluorescent lights became the rage for homes and offices. Instead of the long 4'-8' tubular bulbs of the industrial ceiling fixtures, the compact fluorescent bulbs use a coiled shape that takes up approximately the same width of space as the older standard incandescent light bulbs. Compact fluorescent bulbs last longer and cast off a blue-toned light. No more warm tones, now we were in the cool tones.

Compact fluorescent light bulbs became popular
a decade or two ago. They last much longer than
standard incandescent bulbs. However, they are
less environmentally friendly, releasing mercury
into the environment when broken in landfills. 

A few years ago the next big change in household lighting came to the public eye - LED lighting. The light emitting diode lights have now started taking over because of their longer life and low power requirements. It is LED industrial lighting that my YMCA has switched to, and the lights are super BRIGHT. Our swimming pool had standard fluorescent fixtures, but now they have been switched over to LED fixtures instead. The lumens have been seriously increased, but it's not necessarily for the better. It's almost too bright.

The newest and brightest bulbs are the LED lights.
Unfortunately, some home wiring won't work
well with LED light bulbs, requiring the home
owners to stay with fluorescent bulbs or tear
out their wiring and have it redone. LED lights
are very bright and size flexible, leading to some
wonderful front and rear headlight displays on
today's automobiles. 

Yes, we've come a long way from protecting the candle flames as we walked up darkened stairways, but I'm not sure it's all for the better. LED lights save on power and will cut down on electrical and utility bills, but some ambiance has been lost. It's disappointing, in a way. Have an illuminating Friday.

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