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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A groovy victim of progress

Throughout history, the march of progress has left countless items of interest ground under its heels. Witness the Nose Adjuster, the TRS-80, the Lava Lamp... uh, the Lava Lamp?

Yeah, the Lava Lamp. I realized recently that the current craze for energy efficient lighting -- specifically standard screw-in light bulbs, replacing incandescents with fluorescents -- will ultimately kill my enjoyment of my Lava Lamp. Why is that?

Well, a Lava Lamp's operation relies directly on the very inefficiences that people complain about with incandescent bulbs: too much energy lost to heat generated by the bulbs. Y'see, while a Lava Lamp uses the light from its appliance-sized 40W bulb (the kind you put in your refrigerator) to illuminate its groovy suspension of coloured fluids, it also requires the heat from the bulb to impart motion in the fluids. (The stuff in the bottom heats up, expands and thereby lowers its density, and floats in a blob to the top of the lamp. Then the blob, now further away from the heat of the bulb, cools down and contracts until it becomes denser than the fluid in which it is suspended, and drops back down to the bottom of the lamp to repeat the process.)

So, hopefully you can now see the problem. New fluorescent bulbs generate very little heat (which is part of what makes them more efficient), and once these bulbs have completely replaced the traditional heat-generating bulbs, I will be unable to enjoy my Lava Lamp. Oh, sure, I'll still be able to put a small fluorescent bulb in my Lava Lamp, and watch the glow, but there'll be no motion, which I'd say is more than half the experience.


Incidentally, I wonder what kind of bulb they use for this Lava Lamp?

Oh, and hey, have you heard this joke?

Q: How many stoners does it take to change a light bulb?

A: Wh- what? Dude... just, Dude.



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