The modern world is an electrified world. The light bulb, which was probably one of the greatest inventions of all time, profoundly changed humans life by illuminating the night and making it hospitable to a wide range of human activity. Until the light bulb and electricity were invented, people could see at night only with candles, fires, gaslights, or oil lamps. The electric light bulb provided brighter light so people were better able to read, sew, and do other things that required a lot of light.
Electricity comes into a light bulb via a hot wire connected to a tab on the base of the bulb. Inside the bulb the electricity goes through a wire leading to a piece of tungsten. The tungsten is very thin and coiled to maximize resistance in the wire. When electricity meets resistance, it heats up the resistor.
The tungsten gets to a temperature of about 4500° Fahrenheit (2482° Celsius). This causes it to get white hot. It glows, and glows quite brightly. Tungsten is used because it has a very high melting point.
The tungsten is encased in a bulb for good reason. Not only does it protect people and objects from the hot tungsten, it also keeps oxygen away from the hot metal, which would make it immediately burn up. The bulb is usually filled with a low pressure, inert gas such as argon.
After the electricity has made its way through the tungsten filament, it goes down another wire and out of the bulb via the metal portion at the side of the socket. It goes into the fixture and out a white wire.
In the early 1800’s, inventors started experimenting with electric light. In 1802, Humphry Davy invented the first electric light. He experimented with electricity and created an electric battery. Then he used it to connect piece of carbon to it using wires, so that carbon glowed and produced light. His invention was known as the Electric Arc lamp. And while it produced light, it didn’t produce it for long and was much too bright for...
Cited: “They All Laughed” by Ira Flatow, HarperCollins Publishers, 1992.
“The History of the Incandescent Lightbulb”. About.com Inventors. 12 May 2011. Mary Bellis 14 April 2013
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