The Lightbulb That Really Is a Better Idea

LED bulbs change the lighting equation

4 min read
The Lightbulb That Really Is a Better Idea

Five years ago they were in the lab; now you can buy LED lightbulbs at a hardware store. Should you? They produce as much light as incandescent bulbs for less than a fifth the electricity and heat, they last up to 20 years, and they fit in standard sockets.

Even more important, today's models—unlike previous generations of superbright light-emitting diodes—produce a light that is natural enough to satisfy most incandescent buyers. Compact fluorescents, even in their warmer incarnations, produce spectra with a handful of sharp peaks. The spectrum of a warm-white LED, by contrast, is relatively smooth, much more like that of a glowing filament. LEDs also turn on instantly, with constant brightness, unlike CFLs. What's more, they beat CFLs where CFLs beat incandescents, by lasting even longer and saving you even more on your electricity bill. And, of course, an LED bulb looks much more like a regular lightbulb than does the CFL corkscrew.

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The Transistor at 75

The past, present, and future of the modern world’s most important invention

1 min read
A photo of a birthday cake with 75 written on it.
Lisa Sheehan

Seventy-five years is a long time. It’s so long that most of us don’t remember a time before the transistor, and long enough for many engineers to have devoted entire careers to its use and development. In honor of this most important of technological achievements, this issue’s package of articles explores the transistor’s historical journey and potential future.

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