When one reflects on the past century, it is astonishing how much technology has evolved in every sense. From light bulbs that lasted only ten hours, to bulbs that can now last over ten thousand hours. From a simple cellular phone only capable of making phone calls, to today’s smartphones that have effectively changed the way we interact with one another. Although there will always be opponents of technology, there is no denying that is has positively impacted modern society, and the way we live, work, and communicate.
Thomas Alva Edison
In today’s society, when a light bulb goes out, we think nothing of it. It is easy to drive to the closest store, purchase the appropriate bulb for next to nothing, and replace the burnt out bulb. What people don’t realize, however, are the painstaking hours of work and dedication that Thomas Edison devoted to this magical wonder, and the impact that it has had on society today. In order to fully understand and appreciate this marvel, it is necessary to go back in time and relive the invention for yourself. In Chapter 1 of Beyond Engineering, Robert Pool takes you back to the beginning, back to the time when “if people wanted light after the sun went down, they still performed the age-old ritual: they lit a fire. Outdoors, it might be a wood fire; indoors, a candle or kerosene lamps”. Before Edison’s invention transformed society, the majority of people were cast in the dark when the sun went down. Although candles and kerosene lamps were an option, they were not only dim, but also a potential safety hazard. They were also unable to provide the reliable source of light that today’s lamps produce. Even though a few warehouses and factories had arc lighting installed, this technology was far too expensive and unattainable for the average household.
It goes without saying that the light bulb itself was nothing special. Without all the additional technology and developments that followed, such as power stations,...
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