GE's new light bulb

Replacing the incandescent light bulb is no joke. Commercialized by Thomas Edison more than a century ago, the light bulb ranks with the printing press, electricity, and penicillin as one of the great inventions that changed the world. But its huge success also became a weakness. Lighting now represents as much a fifth of a household's energy consumption.

Switching to more efficient forms of illumination like compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) or light emitting diodes (LEDs) can deliver big cuts in the electricity bill and help tackle climate change.

But that transition has not been easy. People cherish the warm glow of the incandescent bulb. Many customers still consider LEDs expensive and some CFLs initially turned off users with their slow startup time and cool hard light.

But GE engineers went to work to make the CFL as appealing as the warm lights of yore. GE's new “Bright From the Start” CFL is a shining result of that effort. It sports what BusinessWeek called a “ship in a bottle” look, with the trademark fluorescent tube twisted around a tiny halogen light and trapped inside an old-fashioned glass bulb. But that's just the start. Inside, the bulb is a bundle of innovation. It contains four pending patent applications and the design process delivered seven other breakthroughs.

What kind of inventions? Click here to read more.

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