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Uncommon Knowledge: How long can a light bulb shine?

Advances in technology have certainly improved the lifespan of the humble light bulb: new LED bulbs will burn for 50,000 hours, or nearly six years of continuous use. But they still can’t compare with the longevity of some of their old-fashioned, incandescent ancestors. At a fire station in Livermore, California, there shines a bulb that has been in use for the last 110 years. The four-watt bulb was switched on before the beginning of WWI, and has almost never been turned off during the century since. Surprisingly, the low wattage and continual usage might actually have contributed to the bulb’s extended life. As incandescent lights are turned on and off, their filaments quickly heat and cool, causing the stress cracks that eventually break and leave you in the dark.

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Written by Nathan

Nathan is a copywriter, who helps create our product descriptions as well as our weekly emails. He is also a nationally award-winning musical theater writer, whose work includes an adaptation of Lois Lowry’s novel The Giver. Nathan has also been a classical violinist, tutored Kazakhstani jewelers in entrepreneurship, created large-scale games played across entire city blocks, served as a missionary in South Korea, conducted experiments in sonoluminescence, co-founded an exotic fruit-growing business, was a theater critic for Tucson Weekly, and as a teenager composed a women’s jazz quartet that is currently performed around the world.

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