The Centennial Light Bulb-Burning Strong For 113 Years

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Now-a-days we’re always in the search for a light bulb that doesn’t need to be changed so often.  You’ll find a remarkable light bulb burning bright at a fire station in Livermore, California.  It hasn’t been turned off since 1901, shining around the clock for nearly one million hours now.

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The Guinness Book of World Records, Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, and General Electric all agree that the four-watt, carbon filament bulb is the longest living in history, despite two moves and a few power outages during its lifetime. The bulb was donated to the department in 1901 by Dennis Bernal, a pioneer in the area who owned the Livermore Power and Light co.  It was originally hung to be used as a night light so firefighters wouldn’t have to fumble around with lighting kerosene lamps.  Over the years the fire chiefs in charge have regarded the light bulb as their talisman.

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There have been many theories to explain the Livermore bulb’s longevity and much research has been done on it.  A physicist at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD, Debora Katz has conducted research on the centennial bulb.  A vintage light bulb from Shelby Electric Co. was used because it was the closest replica available.  What makes the Livermore bulb special is its filament is eight times thicker than a contemporary bulb and the filament is a semiconductor, most likely made of carbon.  Katz will continue her research further but she says “It is possible that the Livermore light bulb is one of a kind.”

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The only time the bulb was off in the last 113 years was when it was shifted from one fire station and installed in another, and during a power outage.  The fire station installed a camera to monitor the light bulb and apparently is has outlasted 3 cameras, and a UPS unit.  Bulb protector, Steve Bunn said the secret of the lights success was down to good old fashioned engineering.