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THE LIGHT OF THE FUTURE.

['Detroit Free Press ']

It looks as if we had at last attained the light of the future. New York is soon to enjoy a unique spectacle. One of its uptown blocks is to be illuminated with phosphorescent light. Step 3 are already being taken to carry out this novel scheme. A row of glass tubes.eiijht feet long and three, and a half inche? in diameter, will be strung, end to end, between the guard wires and the Bpan wires of the trolly line along the whole length ot the block. This glowing beam of luminescence will make every square foot of space in the street almost as light a3 day. The brilliance of the display will be enhanced by the moving to and fro of the trolly cars, which will bo lit up by smaller tubes ranged inside near the signalling cord.

Mr MacFarlan Moore, the inventor of the system, proposes by this exhibition to prove the truth of his claim that streets and buildings can be illuminated more cheaply and more effectually by the phosphorescent light than by any other electric method of illumination. His plan, where there ia no trolly in the street, is to run the line of tubes on poie3 placed at kerbstones. The current in every case will be DERIVED FROM THE ORDINARY STREET MAINS.

What scientists have always been looking for is a told light, a light that consumes nothing but the current, which consists, in fact, of the ether in agitation. The electric light was revolutionary in a great many ways. Before, for instance, every light had to burn the right way up. The electric light could be turned in any position and at any angle, and, in the case of the incan'descent lamp, under water. But there was still a radical fault. There was a fila-nent, which surely, though it might be slowly, deterioratecl, and as the current encountered the friction of its solid particles, heat was thrown off. The next step was the dispensing with the filament and the turning of the atmospheric contents of the bulb into light without dissipating any of the efficiency of the current in heat. .This is what has been done in tho system of phosphorescent or "cold " lighting which is to be exploited in New York. Two years ago it was considered an extraordinary advance that some electricians who had been working in tho field for years should have produced a j.hosphoresceut light by which alone a somewhat indistinct photograph was made in eight minutes, and now this type of light is a commercial factor in TUItSIN'O > T IGIIT INTO DAY IN THE CITY STREETS.

In May, 1896, Mr Moore showed his system of phosphorescent lighting before the American Institute of Electrical Engineers, and photographed tho meeting hall by it in thirty seconds. Some of the electrical exp2rts present ciuld not believe that the brightness of the light did not involve a greater expenditure of horsepower, which would make it more expensive than ihs ordinary incandescent lights, until then .used, in the hall. This question was then and there set at rest. A committee of leading electricians, who were deputed to test the system, stated as the result of tho r inveßtija i d, that there had been consumed even less energy than had been estimated by Mr Moore, who claimed for his light an efficiency of ourrent not inferior to that of the incandesoent electric light. This was a crucial point in the rivalry with the older system on which the phosphorescent light had entered. There are practically two ways of producing phosphorescent light. One is to electrify the air of a room so that when the tubes cxhaustod of air are waved in it they light up; the Other is to lead the current into the tubes. The first is more sensational, but it involves the difficulty of u?ing and keeping on the wires currentvibrating at, possibly,

MILLIONS OF OSCILLATIONS PER SECOND. It is also expeusive, and has been compared by analogy whh a method of heating which yvould let live steam loose into a room when it could be conveyed to a steam coil or radiator with much more safety and camfort, and with certainly greater economy of steam. Mr Moore adopted the second method, leading the current into ths tubes and putting the e},her into agitation by the passing ii the electric vibrations throueh the exhausted air. His " vibrator," which he then admitted he used only as a makeshift, and which met ODly comparatively rudimentary conditions of the still eiude system, was soon discarded for hi 3 "rotator," which gives 50,000 vibrations per minute, as against the 6.000 of twelve months ago. The effect of the increased rate of vibration is Been in the greater strength, steadiness, and eveEnass of the light in the tubes. Not only is-a much better light now available, but it can be produced twelve and a-half times cheaper than it could bo a year ago. Formerly each tube had a separate wire leading to it; now any number can be run connected between two wires. The rotator, which has been instrumental in bringing this lighting of the future to a practical stage, is a small machine, which could be place-J under a waste paper basket. It consists essentially of a circular magnet, in the centre of which is a glass tube, thes'z3 of a rolling pin. This tube is exhausted to as nearly a perfect vasuum as possible. Within it there is placed a wonderful mechanism, which is the heart of the whole apparatus. Oa a vertical shaft is supported a star-shaped or an anchorshaped piece of iron. As the current is turned on and traverses the circular magnet, this little iron disc is flished around at the enormous speed of 10,000 revolutions per minute. The vibrations thus created are communicated by wires to the line of glass tubes, which forthwith BURST INTO LUMINESCENCE. The efficiency of the rotator, which is said to already fulfil commercial requirements, is at present restricted by the limitations of means for the production of a higher state of vacuum in the big tubes. As these restrictions become modified the coat of producing phosphorescent light may be very appreciably reduced.

In regard to this possibility, it may be' said that thoße who have carefully followed the electrical developments of the past few years have come to the conclusion that it is rash to foretell that any particular thing cannot be done by electricity. What such a reproduction might mean to large municipalities may be gathered from the fact that a decrease of 50 per cent, in the cost of lighting for the bix months of the fall and spring in the city of New York would result in a saving to the community of over 8,000,000d01. Mr Moore's own belief is that before very long we shall be lighting twenty vacuum lights with the current now needed for one incandescent lamp. This estimate seems less extravagant when it is borne in mind that all the power that appears as light is 3 per. cent, of the heat in the fuel under the boiler, and that 97 per cent, is consumed in heat and wasted on the way to th« point at which light results.. Now, if, aa is actually the case, the phosphorescent lighting tubes are as cool after they have been in use for an honr as they were at the moment of receiving the first vibratory, wave that starts them into light, a large production of the usual heat waste is avoided, and that is just so much saving in current, and also, of course, in the cost of illumination. If that man is a benefactor to the human race who makes two blades of grass grow where one grew before, & system which would enable twenty lights to be employed where one was formerly the rule is an embodiment of the highest ] philanthropy, ~lt would make the dingy | homes of the poor bright with cool which leaves no ill-smelling anduowhole'"

some taint behind it, and improve t tie moral' status of the community by" PROMOTING CHKESFDIJJES3 AND HEAtTH. In estimating the value of this new form of light, the fundamental basis of its-superi- 1 otity, its diffusiveness, must be kept prominently in view. Heretofore the tendency in lighting methods has been to create spots or blotches of light, which would brightly illuS" minate everything within a certain radius, but leave the outlying space in gloom." Tte new light will change all this. It lends itself to an entirely novel conception of 'deed-' rative effects; it is soft to the eye and restful to the nerves, and seems part of the atmosphere rather than in it; In fact, the firet.general adoption of the "etheric "light, as it is now called, is likely to be in houses, where its beautiful quality will be especially appreciated. The sense of luminous ,air that it imparts ia most fascinating, particularly where the long tubes are . almost out of sight, and the great body of the light is thrown out by refkotion, when, for instance, it is run between a projecting cornice and the ceiling. The light can be made of any tint by changing the vacuum in the tubes, or by charging the capacity of the circuit. So that a room can have its light tinted either in various colors, or to match the pervading tone of the hangings and furniture. If at any time either a more sombre or a more cheerful tint is desired it can instantly be imparted without touching a single tube. It is impossible here to suggest the innumerable applications which will be made of the new illuminant, in signalling, sign designing, decorating of public buildings and squares, etc. ; it must suffice to say that etheric lighting has arrived ; it is cold ; it is cheap, and it has come to stay.

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Permanent link to this item

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Bibliographic details

THE LIGHT OF THE FUTURE., Evening Star, Issue 10447, 18 October 1897

Word Count
1,657

THE LIGHT OF THE FUTURE. Evening Star, Issue 10447, 18 October 1897

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