How often, have you, dear readers, change the burned out light bulbs in your chandelier? Once a year? Once every three months? Most likely, you think, that if a modern light bulb, no matter what kind it is (regular, energy saving … LED), serves you more than two years, it speaks of its high quality … it saved you money, etc.
I will have to upset you. A light bulb, which lasted a year, two or even five years, is not really that good. Don’t believe me? What would you say about a light bulb, which has worked non-stop for 116 years?! It is lit and has no intention of going out.
In 1901, an unknown to anyone electrician of the town Livermore, California brought light and joy into a local fire station, by wiring electricity to it and by hanging an Edison incandescent lamp.
In places, which are open 24 hours a day, and a fire station is one of such places, the light is never turned off. The light bulb was lit at the same time, when Henry Ford turned on the world’s first production line. The light bulb was not turned off during the first World War, even during the signing of the Versailles Treaty. The second World War began and ended, but the light was still lit. Yuri Gagarin made his flight to outer space, but the firefighters of Livermore enjoyed the game of cards under the same Edison light bulb.
Of course, there is no doubt that the light bulb was occasionally off, when the entire fire station found itself with no power. Although, it is doubtful that anyone thought about turning it off intentionally. Especially, since the off switch, made according to old technologies, is located on the bulb itself. So, in order to turn off the light, one would have to climb all the way to the ceiling.
The 21st century began. The grandchildren of grandchildren of that unknown electrician, who installed the Edison bulb, no doubt already had children of their own, but the Centennial Light kept on illuminating the concrete garage, in which many generations of fire engines kept replacing each other.
It is interesting, but no one thought about this phenomenon for quite some time. Only in 1972, a local reporter, after visiting the fire station in search of a story, noticed the old cap of the bulb and began asking the local fire fighters about it. The fire fighters confirmed, that the cap and the bulb in it still remember president Theodore Roosevelt and brothers Wright with their first plane.
This was a surprise! The experts, who immediately arrived and studied the light bulb, have confirmed its uniqueness and entered the information into The Guinness Book of World Records.
In 2010, the Edison bulb got its own webpage. The webpage has no updates of any kind, except one … the bulb is still lit. Even today, all, who are willing to find out for themselves, can observe the images over the live webcam of the burning light bulb. Over the last seven years, the web camera has been changed twice, due to its failure, but the Edison light kept on working.
A few words about the device itself. The Edison bulb was produced in the 1890s by the Shelby Electric Company based on the design by Thomas Edison. The bulb is handmade by glassblowers. The filament is eight times thicker, than that of modern bulbs. The bulb is rated at 60 watts, but today, it is burning at approximately one tenth of its power, in order to extend its service life. It is forbidden to cut the power to it, for it is the process of turning a bulb on and off that takes the most toll on it.
I want to end this with one phrase: I wish everything had such quality today!
Written by: Igor Nikitin
Translated by: Dmitriy Kushnir