Friday, February 13, 2015

An Ancient Lightbulb For Freaky Friday...!

I figure a few of you have heard of the oldest burning bulb in the U.S. If not, then this is your chance to find out a little about it.

How did this bulb make it to Freaky Friday, you ask? Good question. See, this bulb has been burning since 1901! Man, this thing is far older than most people. As far as that goes, it's probably a lot brighter tan some folks I know. But that's a story for another day!

California’s Mysterious (And Immortal) Lightbulb
By Nolan Moore on Thursday, February 12, 2015

If you were to visit the fire department in Livermore, California, you’d find an oddly shaped lightbulb hanging in the garage. The bulb dangles from the roof by a cord and only gives off about 4 watts. So what’s the big deal? Well, aside from a handful of interruptions, this lightbulb has been shining 24/7 since 1901.



It’s safe to say the lightbulb is one of the most important inventions in the history of, well, inventions. It’s also safe to say most of us probably take these little glass balls for granted, at least until they burn out. Then we just get irritated.

Things were a lot different in 1901. Only 3 percent of Americans actually had electricity, so when the volunteer fire department in Livermore, California got their first bulb, it was a pretty big deal.

The bulb was a gift from the Livermore Power and Water Company, and it made things a lot easier when fires broke out in the middle of the night. Instead of stumbling around in the dark, firefighters could actually see all their gear. Suddenly, hitching up horses to the hose carts became a lot easier.

In 1906, the fire department moved into a new building, so they loaded up their equipment and trucked it down the street. And of course, they took along their lightbulb. It was the only one they had, and after all, it was still burning. In fact, they kept it on 24/7. That’s pretty impressive as the average American incandescent bulb only lasts between 1,000 and 2,000 hours.

But in the words of Al Jolson, you ain’t seen nothing yet. As the firefighters ditched their hose carts for fire trucks, the lightbulb continued to illuminate their garage, dangling from the roof by a long cord. Finally, in 1971, Fire Chief Jack Baird asked a reporter to dig around and see what he could learn about the mysterious bulb that never burned out.

As it turns out, this particular bulb was invented by the Shelby Electric Company, a US business founded in the late 1890s by a French immigrant named Adolphe Chaillet. Chaillet was a pretty sharp guy, having graduated from both French and German academies, and was something of a master showman. To prove the superiority of his product, Chaillet would take several kinds of lightbulbs, screw them into a theater marquis board, and turn up the juice.

Invariably, each and every lightbulb would blow up . . . except for his. Thanks to these demonstrations, the Frenchman could boldly declare his merchandise lasted 30 percent longer than any other bulb on the planet. Well, up until he was bought out by General Electric anyway.

Jumping back to the ’70s, Chief Jack Baird was duly impressed by Chaillet’s long-lasting lightbulb. So naturally, when the firefighters moved to a new station in ’76, the bulb was brought along in grand style. It was placed in a special red box and given an escort complete with sirens and flashing lights.

The “Centennial Light” is still burning away in Fire Station No. 6, and with very few exceptions (power failure, moving, and remodeling), it’s been giving off light for over 113 years. As you might expect, this eternal light has attracted quite a bit of attention over the years. It was featured on MythBusters, was honored in the Guinness Book of World Records, and was even honored by George W. Bush on its 100th anniversary. The bulb even has its own webcam.

But why this is particular lightbulb so special? How has it lasted so long? Well . . . nobody knows for sure. Some think it’s actually a prank, but those doubters and naysayers are in the minority. One researcher theorizes perhaps it has something to do with the bulb’s unique design. As it turns out, Shelby bulbs have filaments that are eight times thicker than average. On top of that, they’re made out of carbon instead of your typical tungsten.

Of course, that doesn’t really explain how the Livermore light has outlasted the average human and survived two world wars, the rise and fall of the USSR, the invention of the Internet, and 9/11. Perhaps the only way we’ll find out the lightbulb’s secret is to wait for it to finally burn out and then crack it open and investigate. But when the Centennial Light finally fizzles out, the world will become a little darker and little less magical. Let’s hope it keeps on shining for years to come.

If you want to read more about this Freaky bulb, you can find out more right here...or here!

What I want to know is...with all our "advances" in science and technical knowledge, why can't we come up with something that is even half as good as this lightbulb? Pretty freaky, don't you think?

Coffee is gonna be out on the patio again. I got some Danish that I'll share!

7 comments:

linda m said...

I think I saw that light bulb when I was visiting relatives in Livermore CA. Sure wish we had things that would last 113 years instead of maybe 1 year, if your lucky. I've stated buying LED light bulbs just so I'm not changing them all the time. Coffee on the patio sounds good and thanks for the danish. Have a great weekend.

Dizzy-Dick said...

That is a good story and as usual, you got me thinking. That is one amazing light bulb, for sure.

thecottagebythecranelakethree said...

I've read about this light bulb and I think they showed it in the news here when it reached 100. I guess it wouldn't be good business to make long lasting lightbulbs :-)

Now days they aren't allowed to sell the old light bulb,they use too much energy they say. Well I'm not sure after all most of us don't have them turned on for hours and hours.

Have a great day!

Christer.

HermitJim said...

Hey Linda M...
I reckon the companies wouldn't make as much money if their product lasted longer. Too sad, really.

Thanks for coming by today!



Hey Dizzy...
I,m glad you liked the story. Does make you want to think about the whole process, though.

Thanks for coming over this morning.



Hey Christer...
I think it sorta puts us to shame when we can't make something to last as long as they did back then.

Thanks for stopping by today!

Mamahen said...

Have read this before..I have a bulb shaped similar to it that was n a lamp in my sister's kitchin when she had tp go into a nursing facility in 04....I brought it home n put iit in my kitchen n use it daily....sure wish I would have thought to ask her more about it :))

JO said...

Very interesting but they sure don't want these around today because like others have stated can't make any money off us that way.

Rob said...

The secret to lightbulbs has been reveled!