The invention of the lightbulb is generally credited to Thomas Edison. However, as with most scientific discoveries, Edison’s invention was only possible thanks to the work of a number of other scientists from whose ideas he built.
Regardless of how we divvy up the credit, this invention was the catalyst for many more technological advancements. Thanks to these scientists, we now live in a world of levitating desk lamps that liven up our homes, UV lights that help investigators fight crime, and LED lighting towers that allow miners to safely plunge into the dark depths of the earth.
Read on to learn more about the world’s most revolutionary lighting inventions.
1. Levitating desk lamps
It wouldn’t be fair to leave you hanging after that casual mention of levitating desk lamps in the introduction. So, let’s start with Flyte. Winner of multiple design awards, Flyte is a wireless light bulb that’s able to hover in mid-air thanks to magnets. Using energy-efficient LEDs that can be charged wirelessly while the bulb hovers, Flyte gives off a soft, warm glow to match its magical appearance.
While Flyte’s hovering abilities are undeniably cool, the LEDs that provide the light are nifty little inventions themselves. LEDs have no filament to heat up. Instead, they are illuminated by the way electrons move in semiconductor materials. Cool to the touch and easy on energy consumption, these little light-emitting diodes have revolutionized everything from the automotive and entertainment industries to mining and construction.
3. UV lights
The harnessing of ultraviolet (UV) light revolutionized the world of forensics, allowing investigators to authenticate art and the signatures on crucial documents, illuminate fingerprints at crime scenes, and discover evidence on clothing.
Saliva, semen, perspiration and other bodily fluids fluoresce when passed over by UV light, giving forensic technicians insight into what may have gone on at a crime scene. Even dried stains and those that appear, to the naked eye, to have been cleaned reveal themselves under UV light.
4. Neon lights
Neon signs are an iconic feature of most inner-city landscapes, and each one is a fascinating science experiment in action. The sealed glass tubes are fitted with a negative electrical terminal at one end and a positive one at the other. The space between is filled with neon gas.
When the electricity supply flows in, the neon atoms are pulled apart. As electrons are lost, the neon atoms become positively charged and flow to the negative electrical terminal. Meanwhile, the negatively charged electrons hurtle to the positive terminal. All this rushing about results in collisions and the resultant energy is released in the form of heat and light.
Though it is now a word in its own right, laser originated as an acronym for “Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation.” Much of the credit for the development of laser technology goes to Nikolay Basov. The Soviet scientist was awarded a shared Nobel Prize in Physics for developing the foundations of laser technology.
From the barcode readers that allow you to check out at the supermarket to the laser cutters that create many of the products you buy, laser technology is everywhere. Indeed, the same basic technology that allows partygoers to “reach for the lasers” can be found in the medical equipment doctors use to perform corrective eye surgery and other laser procedures.
It’s easy to take light for granted since we’re surrounded by it on a daily basis. However, the inventions above offer a glimpse into just how spectacular this aspect of our universe truly is.