Incandescent light bulbs are an intimate part of modern society.
You find them virtually everywhere, in essentially every home,
business, car, plane and even the space shuttle. In "Why
Does a Light Bulb Burn Out?" you explore the history of
their invention and development to see how man can adapt relatively
simple materials to profoundly change society. Next, you can
explore the components of a modern incandescent light bulb,
including interactively exploring how current affects the light
the filament emits. Afterwards, you can explore why the filament
gives off light, how bright and what color it is, through interactive
applet-based incandescence tutorials.
Then you become the inventor, choosing and testing your own
filament materials to invent and optimize your light bulb. Next,
you interactively zoom-in from the macroscopic, to the microscopic
and atomic-level to explore why a filament burns out. In the
process you will discover beautiful gemstone-like crystals that
grow in the filament as it ages (shown below) and where they
You can interactively explore the secrets they reveal about
their individual atoms, how they are arranged, and how they
affect the life of the filament. After completing the module,
you will be able to investigate your own filament materials
remotely using SPM Live! Can you invent a better light bulb?
"Why Does a Light Bulb Burn Out?" is designed so
that each successive section (History, Components, Filament,
Burn Out, and SPM Live) follows from the previous section. However,
you can begin at any point, using previous sections for review.