Modern conveniences have come a long way in the last few centuries; mankind has invented everything from steam locomotives to computers and the internet, but no creation has been quite so monumental as the light bulb. As recently as the mid-1800s, people still relied on inconveniences like candles and oil lamps for light, and as technology advanced, scientists and engineers recognized that it was time for a change; after his great success with the phonograph, Thomas Edison was eager to rise to this new challenge, beating out his competition to patent the first incandescent bulb in 1879. Since then, the concept of electric light has exploded into a multi-billion dollar industry, selling countless units and lighting up millions of homes each year. Unfortunately, incandescent light sources also heavily contribute to the endangerment of Earth 's environment, and attempts to replace them have not been as successful as anticipated.
So what changed? How can such a phenomenal invention go bad? The truth is, light bulbs haven 't changed much at all since they first hit the market, and that 's actually the biggest problem. Incandescent bulbs are powered by a "filament," that coiled bit in the middle that lights up, which makes them inexpensive to produce and purchase. While this was switched from carbon to tungsten in the early 1900s in the interest of increased energy efficiency, they 're not actually efficient at all. It 's estimated that as little as 10% of the energy they use is converted into light and the rest is wasted as heat ("Incandescent light"). It may not seem like a big deal, but the production of electricity used to run these bulbs is start...
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...hat people are loathe to give them up, even in light of newer, more efficient alternatives. Fluorescent bulbs are not as dangerous as they 're made out to be, and when broken, there 's more lasting harm to be had from glass shards than the trace amounts of mercury vapor they contain; there are enough imperfections with the design that it doesn 't warrant imaginary threats. LEDs are shaping up to be the way of the future, but the public simply doesn 't know enough about their use as a legitimate light source, and they 're far too expensive to investigate on a whim; without more exposure, they may yet fade into obscurity. In the end, the goal is still to help preserve the environment and change takes time and patience, but each informed, rational decision and step outside the comfort zone brings the effort a little bit closer toward the light at the end of the tunnel.
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