Providing Light in the Darkness. Pages 54 + 55. Reading

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Providing Light in the Darkness

You may have said it yourself when you have a great idea-“a light bulb turned on.” But have you ever wondered where the expression came from? To trace the origin of the light bulb as a symbol of ingenuity, you’d have to travel back in time to the late 1880s. At that time, people lit their homes at night with only candles, torches, and gas lamps. Using fire to create light could be quite dangerous. For 50 years, scientists and inventors had been trying to create a light bulb that was powered by heat, and not fire.

Enter Thomas Edison, a mostly self-taught inventor and businessman, who devoted himself to finding a safe, inexpensive, and long-lasting incandescent light bulb. While previous inventors had made great strides, it was Edison who expanded on their ideas to make it happen. And it was Edison who developed the first electric network, bringing electric light to the masses.

Always an Inventor

Thomas Alva Edison was born in Milan, Ohio, in 1847. An inquisitive and restless student, he left school after only 12 weeks. At the age of twelve, he became a newspaper boy on a train. He worked on the Grand Trunk Railroad, going back and forth between two cities in Michigan and selling papers to the travelers. By the time he was fifteen, he had gone beyond selling somebody else’s newspapers. He was publishing his own, The Weekly Herald, right on the train. It was the first newspaper ever printed on a moving train.

Edison took advantage of his access to the railroad and used a baggage car to set up a small laboratory. There, he would experiment with chemicals, a somewhat risky undertaking. In fact, one day, as he was mixing some volatile chemicals, he started a small fire, which spiraled out of control. It spread to the entire car and created a pungent burning smell. The conductor, who had no idea about what Edison was doing in the baggage car, smelled the fire and barged in, hitting Edison on the head in the excitement. While they managed to put out the fire, Edison was banned from making and selling newspapers inside the train cars and had to publish and sell his newspapers outside of the train cars.


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Providing Light in the Darkness. Pages 54 + 55. Reading
Providing Light in the Darkness. Pages 54 + 55. Reading

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