The electrific Thomas Alva Edison, and you

11 February is, amusingly, known as Be Electrific Day. It’s the celebration of the birth of Thomas Alva Edison (11 Feb 1847 – Oct 1931), so today is obviously all about electricity. But electricity wasn’t the only domain Edison dabbled it – in fact he held the world patenting record, being granted a mindblowing 1093 patents in his lifetime. So today is also about being terrific, standing out, being the best you can be. This is the day to be ‘electrific’, a term first coined by inspirational speaker Carolyn Finch in 1998 – she defined being electrific is “an abbreviation for an electrification project – which means to put light where light has not been before.”

Be Electrific Day - the perfect time to allow all facets of your unique brilliance to shine brightly. (© All Rights Reserved)
Be Electrific Day – the perfect time to allow all facets of your unique brilliance to shine brightly.
(© All Rights Reserved)

Talking about Edison – among his dazzling array of patents are the first commercially practical incandescent lightbulb; an electric vote-recording machine, a phonograph, storage batteries, a dictaphone and a mimeograph.

1879 was, literally, Edison’s light bulb year – he built his first high-resistance, incandescent bulb in his laboratory in January 1879, and from that success worked tirelessly on thousands of filament substances before settling on the carbon filament presented for public demonstration on 31 December of the same year.

Beyond that, however, I suppose at a symbolic level Edison’s whole life can be considered a light bulb life. With the light bulb often being associated with creativity and invention, I guess it’s fair to sat that Thomas Edison had more light bulb moments than most.

I cannot help but wonder what it is in the wiring of some people’s brains that result in such seemingly unlimited inventiveness. Are they smarter than everyone else, or is it just a specific way of looking at the world?

But let me not get started on the topics of creativity and innovation, otherwise this post may never end. So for now, let’s just take Edison as a role model for the day, and strive to ‘electrificate’ as best we can!

Celebrating Edison’s light bulb

On this day, 120 years ago in 1892, Thomas Edison was granted a number of patents relating to electric lighting, including a “System of Electric Lighting”, an “Incandescent Electric Lamp”, a “System of Electrical Distribution” and an “Electric-Lighting System”. His initial design of the incandescent light bulb dates back even earlier, to 1879.

While inventions relating to the incandescent lamp had been suggested before Edison, his concept improved on previous attempts through the combination of three factors: a more effective and longer lasting filament, a higher vacuum than others were able to achieve, and a design that made power distribution from a centralized source economically viable.

Thomas Edison’s light bulb, lighting up our lives for more than a century.
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An incandescent bulb works by heating a filament to a high enough temperature that it starts glowing.  This is done by passing an electrical current through the filament.  To keep the filament from oxidizing and “burning out”, it is isolated in an enclosure (the glass bulb) that either contains an inert gas, or is evacuated to create a vacuum.

The invention of the incandescent light bulb fundamentally changed the world, providing convenient and affordable lighting to the masses.  While it has since been surpassed by newer and more efficient lighting technologies like compact fluorescent lights and light-emitting diodes (LEDs), it still holds a place of prominence and importance within modern society.