Who Switched The Light Off?

Have you ever read something that starts your mind wandering and then you invariably end up thinking about something completely different and wondering how you got there? (If, at this point, you say no then I possibly need to start worrying about the way my mind works.) Well it happened to me when, the other day, I read in a magazine that the length of time that the longest running light bulb has been burning is 109 years!

This amazing light bulb is housed in Livermore Fire Station No 6 in California.

My immediate thoughts were:

  • At what stage did they decide to start counting? Did someone, in 1901, announce to his fellow fire fighters, “Now listen up guys. I have decided that we will monitor this new light bulb that I’ve just fitted and see how long it lasts.” Why would you do something like that? I’ve just put a new battery in the wall clock in my Studio maybe I should make a note of the date in case it’s still running in 2119.
  • Whose job was it after that to monitor this light bulb? Was it a job entrusted to the newest recruit or did it come along with seniority and promotion? Was it a responsibility that got passed from family member to family member, generation to generation. Imagine the scintillating dinner conversations you could have when someone asked you what your job was. “I’m a firefighter but I also look after this light bulb.”
  • Who protects this light bulb? It’s hard to imagine that there hasn’t been a time over the last 109 years when some eager cleaner hasn’t thought about changing that old light bulb. Though I did read that now this light bulb has it’s own security camera trained on it to protect it!

I wonder if Thomas Edison, when he invented the light bulb, knew just how significant his invention was going to be. Have you ever thought what it would be like without them? We are so used to just throwing a switch whenever we want light. In fact one of our problems nowadays is that we take them so much for granted that we don’t appreciate how much energy we waste whenever we needlessly leave them burning. But the light from a light bulb can be so reassuring. I remember as a child lying in a darkened bedroom watching the shadows of various monsters bouncing off the ceiling and the walls and how just the turning on of a light would make them magically disappear.

As well as inventing the light bulb Thomas Edison also left us some great quotes. One of my favourites is, “Our great weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” I bet that those trapped Chilean miners are glad that the rescuers high above them did not give up hope. They must have felt a tremendous feeling of success when they ‘tried one more time’. And, buried deep underground, there is a group of men whose whole outlook on the concept of light and dark will have been changed for ever.

So what are you going to do or start today that will still be going in 109 years time? For me, well I’m going to start monitoring that wall clock. The new batteries have now been running for 2 days, 7 hours and 24 minutes.

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