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Light For Granted

The word "light" has been used many times as a symbolic gesture, as in "let the light in" or "you light up my life". Light in this context is used to convey a comforting feeling. We all enjoy being in the light, whereas darkness conveys the feeling of a hidden something or unable to see. Whether we like it or not, light plays a very important role in all of our lives. One, that we often take for granted.

Thomas Edison's quest to perfect the filament lamp has resulted in a monumental contribution to the everyday lives of millions of people. He was able to harness electricity into a useful, working solution for lighting. The use of electricity to power lamps revolutionised our working lives. At one time, people slept as the sun fell, then awoke as the sun rose. Our ability to adequately light up any room or space at our wish has resulted in a complete change to our working patterns. Night and evening shifts are almost a requirement for any modern manufacturing company.

There are many different types of lamps in use today. Often called "light bulbs", this term came from the shape of the early filament lamps. Many people though routinely refer to any type of lamp as a light bulb and it is widely understood what is actually meant when this reference is made.

Today, governments and green lobbyists are actively encouraging the use of energy efficient lamps that have a low starting power unlike traditional lamps that use up a lot of power upon the initial switch on. These long life energy efficient lamps are more expensive to buy, but do save you money over the longer term. There are a growing number of sizes available that fit the majority of decorative lamp holders. Lights can be used in many different ways and a popular way is to arrange wall lights to provide muted lighting within a room. These wall lights bring warmth to the room atmosphere that is similar to that of when candles are used.

In certain circumstances lamps are also used to provide heat or the impression of heat such as those used in imitation fires. Heat lamps are often used to keep small animals warm whilst kept in an outbuilding. Light levels are an important consideration for professional photographers, as they need to ensure the correct exposure (the amount of light) that the photographic film sees. A photographer use a "lux" meter to measure the amount of light present so that he can make the correct adjustment to his exposure times. High brightness LED's are also finding their way into more and more applications that require adequate lighting with minimal power consumption. These cutting edge lighting solutions are destined to become a large part of future generations of household luminaries as they consume very small quantities of electricity, which is good news for your power costs.

These same lights have already started to be used within handheld torches and motor vehicle stop lights. Next time you switch a light on, give a little thought as to how lucky we are to sit in the safety of our homes and go about our business even though it may be dark outside. The perseverance of one man has resulted in a relatively safe way to add some light to our lives. Next time you have to change a lamp, remember that Edison went through over 10,000 iterations of the very type of lamp you may be holding. Hopefully you want need to change quite as many as that.

Steve Thomas writes about light and maintains a light related resource website at


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