A lightbulb in a firehouse in Livermore, CA, has been burning continuously since 1901.
In 1901, when the tiny bulb was first screwed into place inside a so-called hose cart house, it cast its light on a simpler era.
Back then, horse-pulled carts carried water to fires. The bulb burned day and night, hanging at eye level from a 20-foot cord. Its job: to break the darkness so firefighters responding to calls wouldn't have to fumble to light the wicks of their kerosene lanterns. Manufactured by the Shelby Electric Co. of Shelby, Ohio, the bulb soon outlived its maker, which closed in 1914.
Later, in the main firehouse, it illuminated more modern rigs as horses were replaced by gas-fed engines.
It didn't always receive kid-glove treatment.
Climbing atop their engines, firefighters returning from World War II and Korea often would give the bulb a playful swat for good luck. The next generation -- the Vietnam veterans and the younger kids -- used it as a target for Nerf basketball practice.
Then, in 1972, a local reporter checked records and interviewed old-timers to trace its history. Firefighters suddenly realized they had a treasure.
"The good-luck slaps and target practice stopped," Bramell recalls. "We figured, 'Wow, maybe we should take care of this bulb.' "
(Image: Robert Durell / Los Angeles Times)
A good way to understand how something works is to watch how it fails. Forgotten Weapons: Over many years of filming with my high speed camera, I have a decent little library of malfunctions in a wide variety of guns. These don’t normally make it into videos, and I figured it would be neat to […]
Eccentric eyewear maker Scott Urban first kickstarted his "Reflectacles" frames in 2016; the frames used emedded retroreflectors to make them throw back tons of light, making them highly visible (and great for things like night cycling); subsequent iterations beefed up the IR reflectivity, which blinded many CCTV surveillance cameras (they use IR to paint low-light […]
The fourth incarnation of the wonderful Raspberry Pi is upon us. A faster quard-core CPU, up to 4GB of RAM, gigabit ethernet and dual HDMI outputs are the upgrades; there’s USB-C too, but just for power. The CPU boost is a big deal, say early users, but dual-4k displays and 4x the RAM bring it […]
When it comes to large computer systems, not one of them is fully secure. Even with constant updates to the platforms that keep vital networks humming, there’s always a back door. And companies are willing to pay handsomely to effective bouncers that can keep an eye on them. Call them ethical hackers or white hat […]
So you’ve visited the Kennedy Space Center every year. You’ve watched “The Right Stuff” for the 95th time. There must be something to do while you’re waiting to join Space Force for the next manned mission to Mars or the moon. Here’s a combo that should raise a salute from any fan of space or […]
Looking for a new tablet? If you haven’t upgraded in a while, it might be time to check out the latest iPad Pro for two very good reasons. First, the 2018 model is a real workhorse. The 12X Bionic chip processor means it can handle any task you set out for it, and still have […]