August 6, 2013
The Light and the Electron
The discovery of the electron and the invention of the incandescent light bulb are among the most exciting and valuable innovations in human history. The incandescent light bulb produces light, and it is a very durable version of the earliest of light sources. Light bulbs and electrons go hand in hand as the electron plays a very important role in producing light. Both came into fruition during the 19th century, and our knowledge of both has improved greatly since their arrival into human history. The discovery of the electron today has paved the way for unparalleled advances in particle sciences, while the light bulb has come a very long way in the advancement of energy conservation and efficiency.
The incandescent light bulb, which many inaccurate accounts of history credit Thomas Edison with the invention of, actually had several inventors who built models of it before Edison. In 1809, Humphry Davy invented the first electric light bulb. He connected wires to a battery, and subsequently connected a strip of charcoal to the opposite ends of the wires. Miraculously, the tiny amount of charcoal produced light, and became known as the arc lamp. However, the arc lamp was not what historians deem as a true incandescent light bulb. The first true incandescent light bulb was invented by a German watchmaker named Henricg Globel, and he used carbonized bamboo as a filament (Bellis, n.d.). Leading historians have actually created a list of 22 inventors who accomplished this feat before Thomas Edison. Edison was, however, the first to create the industry standard of the incandescent light bulb on account of the durability of his model. He tried many different filaments inside an oxygen-vacant (reducing oxidation drastically) glass bulb while on his way to accomplishing his goal of producing a durable light bulb. In 1875 Henry Woodward and Matthew Evans patented the first light bulb, and in 1879 Edison purchased this patent and used it to improve upon his own designs. In 1880 Edison finally produced a light bulb that could last for 1200 hours while also using a bamboo filament. (Bellis, n.d.) The power of this particular model was approximately 90 watts. The bulb’s voltage was 110 volts. The cap was called the Edison Screw. The filament was somewhat rectangular and it stretched vertically up near the top of the bulb to help prevent the filament from sagging. The glass of the bulb was soda-lime glass, and it is one of the more prevalent types of glass used by consumers today among many types of products. The manufacturer of this bulb’s name was the Edison Lamp Company (Evans, 2009). This model would eventually be the first to be produced on a level deemed to be mass, and it was also one of the most affordable light bulbs of the time. Today the incandescent light bulb has evolved much further to last up to a staggering 60,000 hours. This is possible because metallic filaments have become much more affordable over the years, and metal is now the best kind of filament on the market. Lights have even evolved to the point where the gases inside the glass can now repair the filament during usage. These lights are called halogen lights and are much more efficient than the incandescent light bulb. Improvements in energy efficiency have worked wonders for the light bulb; however not everything that goes into making light can be seen with the naked eye.
The electron was discovered in 1896 by a physicist in Great Britain, J.J. Thomson. It is one of the subcomponents that make up the atom; however it is not believed to have any subcomponents that make it up. Thomson performed experiments with the negative charges produced by particles of radioactive, heated and illuminated materials originating from the same place across the board (American Institute of Physics, n.d.). These negatively charged particles are now known today as the electron.