Monday, July 29, 2013

World's longest burning lightbulb

IN his continuing search for the more weird, wacky and wondrous in the world of travel, David Ellis says an electric light bulb installed in a fire station in Livermore in California in 1901 is still burning today after an amazing 112 years' service.

First turned on five years before America got its first motorised fire engines, the bulb today has its own website and fan club, has a 24/7 monitored camera focused on it to watch that it is still alight, and draws a steady stream of curious visitors to have a look at it.

Officially recognised by The Guinness Book of Records and Ripley's Believe It Or Not as the world's longest-lasting light bulb, its longevity has been put down to it being turned on and off so infrequently (and thus not heating and cooling its filament and causing it to crack and eventually "blow.")

In fact apart from city power outages, it's only been turned off when moved from the original fire station to a new one in 1903, again (for a week) during renovations in 1937, and for a third time in 1976 when that station too was closed and the bulb moved to the present Livermore Fire Station 6 – complete with a speedy police escort to ensure its shortest-possible cool-down time.

And so it could never be accidentally turned off, causing its possible final demise, it's been connected to an uninterruptable power supply (UPS) there ever since, only going off in May of this year when the UPS failed, and it hung darkened for nearly 10 hours before bursting back into light.    

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