From Campfire To Neural LED: Follow The Evolution Of Light!
Realistically speaking, why’d the fish crawl out from the primordial ocean to evolve and live on land? They were following the light – the only thing you don’t get that much of under the millions of tons of water.
The only thing worth going through the trouble of adapting to a new world.
Men are no different in that regard. The sun and the stars became our first gods. The lightning became a physical embodiment of power and fury. The first of us smart enough to throw potassium, magnesium, or copper powders into the flames of the tribe’s cherished campfire was awarded the titles of shamans and chiefs.
The thirst for light
“If you are not afraid of the dark, the darkness will start fearing you.” – Mehmet Murat Ildan
According to the researchers from the Illuminating Engineering Society, the very first man-made lights were designed nearly 70,000 years ago. Sure, they were nothing fancy – mere hollowed-out rocks or shells filled with inflatable materials – but they really show the man’s desire to overcome the greatest fear of them all – the uncertainty of what it is that lurks in the dark.
What’s even more peculiar is that the first people never stopped creating new ways of harvesting light. A simple torch, one of the earliest technological know-hows, was far beyond the basic scope of tools from that era. Gathering the materials, animal fats, and fitting wood to increase both the brightness and the duration of the fire was nothing short of a Herculean feat.
Especially for a tool, that unlike a bow, spear, or pickaxe, has little to no impact on actual survivability of the tribe.
The light did something else though, something unheard of – it became the foundation of our culture. It unified us, empowered bonding as well as the concept of storytelling, gave birth to mythology and religion.
The light became the founding stone of culture.
Lighting the candle
Candles seem like the next logical step in the evolution of man-made light. Archeologists have found traces of candleholders in Egypt and Greece. These findings date back to the fourth century B.C.
Surprisingly, few advancements or improvements to the candles were made since the Romans started making dipped candles in 500 BC similar to the ones we use today.
But hey, if it’s not broken…
More than utility
Candles are actually one of the first sources of light that are associated with art, luxury, and extravagance. Their exceptionally high price and the fact they were taxed eight times the rate of tallow forced even the richest members of the society to save them for very special occasions.
Once, in 1731, Sir Robert Walpole, the first Prime Minister of England, treated his guests to a rare sight – the hallways of his mansion were lit by 130 candles. The guests were so stunned that they had to count the candles themselves to believe their own eyes.
The marvelous sight and a chance to impress the guests have cost Sir Robert a hefty sum of 15 pounds. Sure, this may not seem much today, but back in the day, 15 quid was a lot of money.
To put things into perspective, the yearly wage of a housemaid was a mere £3.00.
But even the Prime Minister was put to shame by the Duke of Bedford who illuminated his exceptional event with 1,000 candles. They were worth a total of 603 pounds, more than a family of commoners could make in a lifetime.
And while these are some of the more outrageous occasions of the era, candlelight, even on a smaller scale, was typically used as a token of wellbeing and a sign of prosperity rather than a means of illumination.
There was honor in light. There was power. And there was pride.
Cities by gaslight
Originally developed in England in 1970 gaslight spread across both the British and American cities at the speed of light. Newport, Rhode Island was illuminated with gas-based lanterns within two years since their invention.
The technology revolutionized our very perception of illumination by offering a relatively cheap and simple way to make the city nights a little bit brighter.
Shortly after Rhode Island, most of the major cities in Philadelphia and Baltimore were lit with the warm, all-consuming yet particularly mysterious and wicked gaslight.
The few decades of “mass enlightenment” have inspired thousands of scientists and investors to come up with new, extraordinary ways of bringing the light into every household.
The 1880es and 1890es were a fascinating time of discovery.
Enter electricity with its magical children – the motors, generators, and, of course, lightbulbs.
Sure, these were challenging times. The war of the currents was as unfair and bias as it goes. The winner opted for a series of shady tactics including public electrocuting horses and dogs to simply make a point.
The road may not have been as enlightening as we’d like it to be and yet this war, as well as one of the most dishonest victories in history, have brought mankind to where we stand today.
Speaking of which, where do we stand today, really?
Our world is a constant technological arms race. Cheaper, better, faster, more efficient – these are the slogans of the 21st century. Luckily, we’ve finally started paying attention to the environment and the world surrounding us. Yes, we are still far from the frontlines of this battle but hey, at least we are moving in the right direction.
And what is the lighting industry’s answer to the rising demand for powerful, cost-effective, and green source of little artificial suns?
Three letters: LED.
LED or a Light Emitting Diode is an SSL (Solid State Light) that does not rely on the glass casing of a traditional lightbulb. The technology is based on semiconductors that directly convert electrical current into futons.
Needless to say, their relatively small size and flexibility offer a myriad of opportunities including an unseen before level of control. Our very own Dragon O, for once, is powered by the neural LED technology that empowers people to interact with the light itself. Movement, gesture, the sounds of music, and the passion of your heart are now the switches, tumblers, and controllers.
The light you emit is converted into a new, unseen before form of art. You wouldn’t believe how honored we are to stand on this entirely new, previously undiscovered frontier of opportunity.
What do you think is coming next?