Turning the lights on

Some have called the electric light bulb the most important invention since fire.

If you look at the history of artificial light, you first had fire. Eventually, we moved to candles and oil lamps. And as we moved through the centuries, gas lamps became popular. Then Sir Humphry Davy invented the first electrical light. Soon after, Pavel Nikolayevich Yablochkov created the Yablochkov Candle, the first practical arc lamp, a major step in bringing light to the masses. Edison came in with his incandescent light bulb. Again, people continued improvements to halogen and now LED’s.

It took thousands of years until the first artificial light source was produced in 1770’s. Think about that for a minute. What’s fascinating is that it took only 27 years (from 1990 to today), to turn the lights on for 1.7 billion people. That’s a miracle.

To think that only three decades ago, besides a handful of people in urban cities, your day was over when the sun went down.

Yet, billions are still stuck. The thing is darkness isn’t limited to energy poverty. Darkness exists in illiteracy and in clean water or lack of food. But darkness can’t exist with the lights on.

For the rest of us benefiting from access to abundant resources, we can do better teaching each other. Let’s do better by turning the lights on for someone and help them see for the first time (literally and figuratively).

Like candles, when we share our light with those around us, we all benefit from the extra light in the room.