The lifetime of a light bulb

C

Charmed

#1
Dear Covers:

A 40 watt light bulb has been burning continuously in a Texas museum for 96 straight years, since September 21, 1908. No one knows why it has lasted that long.

But that's not all. There is another 4 watt bulb that has been burning at a firehouse in Livermore, CA since 1901, i.e., for 103 years. These two bulbs must lie way way beyond the Six Sigma limit, may be even Sixty Sigma limit!

Amazing. I would certainly like to find out why these filaments have lasted so long.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6056940/?GT1=5100

I have pasted the full story below, for future reference.

I remember purchasing a light bulb (Philips, Dura brand), a couple of years ago, that was guaranteed to last for one year, but it did not. I had even saved the receipt for a long term and even thought of claiming a refund just to make a point, but then decided to let go of the matter.

By the way, I just replaced a HP laser jet printer, last month, which was purchased in 1985. It lasted for nearly 19 years! Other than replacing the toner cartridge, I had to get it serviced just once during that entire time - needed to replace a critical part (a roller) that feeds the paper.

Any such interesting experiences for a product lasted, or did not last?

Charmed

**************

Texans to fete bulb burning for 96 years

Longevity unexplained; bulb has longer-lived rival

Updated: 4:26 p.m. ET Sept. 20, 2004DALLAS - They sure do not make things anymore like the Texas light bulb that sold for a few cents and has burned for 96 straight years.

The North Fort Worth Historical Society will have a birthday party Tuesday for its famous fixture — a light bulb that has burned continuously since Sept. 21, 1908. The bulb was first illuminated when a stagehand at a local opera house flicked a switch and posted a sign that the light over a stage entrance was not be turned off.

“We have no idea why it has lasted so long. That is the wonderful mystery of it,” said Sarah Biles, the administrator of the museum where the bulb burns, complete with its own independent power supply.

The Texas bulb is about 40 watts and made of thick glass that houses a sturdy carbon filament.

Despite having lasted 96 years so far, the Texas light bulb does not hold the record for the longest continuously burning bulb in the world.

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, that honor goes to a roughly 4-watt bulb that has been burning at a firehouse in Livermore, Calif., since it was turned on in 1901.

Biles said the keepers of the Texas bulb feel no luminescence envy toward the California model because their bulb has had a much more celebrated history.

The Texas bulb was touted — wrongly — in the 1930s as the longest-burning bulb in the world. The opera house where it burned became a movie house, and actors promoting films in Fort Worth would stop to admire the bulb’s orange glow.

“Our bulb has a unique past and can hold its own, even if it is number two,” Biles said.
 
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A

AllanJ

#2
I vote for the Pyramids. They are still there and have had little or no maintenance since being built. As an alternative, there are a number of stone circles predating them. One might also consider various ancient artefacts such as porcelain or jewellery. Handled with care, the procelain would still remain in working condition. Jewellery might wear out - eventually, or need repair.

But, more recent industrial beauties, such as the Forth Railway Bridge, though still standing and fit for purpose has required constant maintenance.

Some other products that have endured, such as the works of Plato, Aristotle etc still exist but in reproduced form - so they would probably not count. Though they probably provide greater illumination that any electric lamp.

But those lamps in Texas and Livermore do not hold the record for a lamp remaining functional. In his poem, Conversation 1. 357, William Cowper wrote, "Our wasted oil unprofitably burns, like hidden lamps in old sepulchral urns." It was a reference to the oil lamp found still burning after fifteen hundred years in the tomb of Tullia, Cicero's daughter.
 
#3
AllanJ said:
I vote for the Pyramids.
The pyramids are fascinating artefacts, but I have to disagree. First of all they are not used for anything but having tourists shoved through them (I have been there, and it was one of the big experiences of my life). They are in essence manmade mountains. Secondly, they are in anything but "mint" condition. Their surfaces were originally covered, and quite smooth. That material is of course long gone.

However, that line of thinking led me to other very old contraptions, actually in use: A number of Roman aqueducts...

Interesting thread, this. Incidentally, one of my interests just happen to be technical history...


/Claes
 
C

Charmed

#4
Sense and Sensibilities

Dear Claes:

You remarks about technical history reminded me of the following.

Firstly, not too long ago, I saw (the TV production of) Jane Austen's novel Sense and Sensibilities. This made for TV movie must have been produced not too long ago - give and take 10, may be 15 years. There is a scene where the stars are visiting a museum in London. In the background you see an old Newcomen engine - still working! If I am right about this being a Newcomen engine, it must have been made before the times of James Watt which means before January 1769 for sure.

Second, in my old engineering college we ran tests on at least two engines (one a steam engine and the other an internal combustion engine) that had been acquired more than a 100 years ago. Never gave it much thought to this bit of history then. I have to find out if the engines are still around and if students still conduct those tests.

Third, there are so many schools and colleges around the world that were built several hundred years ago, and are still in use!
 
C

Charmed

#7
The Autumnal Equinox

Today is September 21 - the autumnal equinox.

http://www.equinox-and-solstice.com/

The hours of sunlight are equal to the hours of night on this day, each year. The earth has been returning to this point in its orbit around the sun for God knows how many years........ now. And that big lamp - the Sun - has been shining for may be even longer than the earth has been orbiting.
 

Mike S.

Happy to be Alive
Trusted Information Resource
#8
I think burning "continuously" is a bit misleading. There had to be power outages during that time. Nevertheless, very impressive. Actually, a bulb will last (light) longer if it is turned-on and left-on instead of switched off and on. Also, a bulb running on DC will last longer than one on AC, and having its own power supply might help protect it from surges, etc. that shorten life.

My own story of long-lasting stuff is a chain-saw that is over 29 years old and has been used to cut 3-4 cords of firewood per year for about 25 of those years. The only thing it has needed is a new clutch and sprocket and of course it has worn through several bars and scores of chains. But it still starts on a couple pulls and runs like a top.

One also reads occasionally of car engines with 300-500K miles and they are still running, which is pretty amazing to me. Old buildings and stuff are okay, but things that move and are subject to friction, heat, load, etc. impress me.
 
C

Charmed

#9
Own Independent Power Suuply

Mike S. said:
I think burning "continuously" is a bit misleading. There had to be power outages during that time. .....

My own story of long-lasting stuff is a chain-saw that is over 29 years old and has been used to cut 3-4 cords of firewood per year for about 25 of those years. The only thing it has needed is a new clutch and sprocket and of course it has worn through several bars and scores of chains. But it still starts on a couple pulls and runs like a top.

One also reads occasionally of car engines with 300-500K miles and they are still running, which is pretty amazing to me. Old buildings and stuff are okay, but things that move and are subject to friction, heat, load, etc. impress me.
Dear Mike:

The Texan light bulb had its own power generator, as mentioned in the story. “We have no idea why it has lasted so long. That is the wonderful mystery of it,” said Sarah Biles, the administrator of the museum where the bulb burns, complete with its own independent power supply.

Of course, does this still mean no power outages? I cannot answer that one.
 
A

AllanJ

#10
Claes Gefvenberg said:
The pyramids are fascinating artefacts, but I have to disagree. First of all they are not used for anything but having tourists shoved through them (I have been there, and it was one of the big experiences of my life). They are in essence manmade mountains. Secondly, they are in anything but "mint" condition. Their surfaces were originally covered, and quite smooth. That material is of course long gone.

However, that line of thinking led me to other very old contraptions, actually in use: A number of Roman aqueducts...

Interesting thread, this. Incidentally, one of my interests just happen to be technical history...


/Claes
Sorry Claes, if you won't allow my Pyramid scheme because of alleged wear and tear on the stones, your aquaducts' argument won't hold water either. :D The last one I visited in Segovia, last year, though beautiful is also worn down. But, could it still hold water and serve as orginally intended? Yes. If we had not been a bunch of grave robbers, would the Pyramids still be serving as originally intended? Yes. So, is the question not to do with fitness to still work as intended? I think we could say all manufactures and constructions will inevitably wear - but, are they worn out and non-operable?


Charmed: you could also look at countless cathedrals (Winchester) and Saxon churches still in use in the UK. But, you can't change the apparent ground rules for a thread you started: the inference is that we are trying to identify man-made products. The sun does not qualify. :nope:

Mike S: there is a 14th century clock in Salisbury cathedral that is still working but I do not know whether or not it has had any substantial replacement of parts. And, in that vein, John Harrison's original clocks, for maritime purposes, are still at the Maritime museum, Greenwich and I understand in good working order. And, for railway enthusiasts, there is a number of still working steam engines on preserved lines - but they have had substantial maintenance and parts' replacement.

Randy: 53 does not class you yet as being museum or historic material - besides, that old body of yours might not function as well as it used to in some quarters. :D
 
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