In 1879, Thomas Edison patented the first commercially viable light-bulb with the goal of making the technology plentiful. As he said during his exposition in Menlo Park: “We will make electricity so cheap that only the rich will burn candles.”
His technology revolutionized the world in ways that could hardly be rivaled hence. Electric lights not only allow us to navigate the dark of night, but also greatly improves the quality of life for those who use it. Numerous studies have correlated positive thinking and mood with light. Happiness is a derivative of a well-lit environment.
Unfortunately, the absence of such light still prevails through much of the developing world. Edison’s goal to make light and electricity universally available has not been actualized. In a number of countries, the only time when a building’s interior is lit is when it’s used for commercial purposes. The people of these nations are left in darkness. Their houses are dark and bleak even when the sun shines outside.
Another invention has arisen with the promise to bring light into their lives. Contrary to Edison’s process, it didn’t involve laborious work in the laboratory to develop. It wasn’t the product of millions of dollars in research. It is revolutionary because of its simplicity. Enter: The Moser Lamp. A cheap lamp powered by the sun.
The device itself is nothing more than a plastic water bottle filled with water and bleach. (The bleach is added to kill any algae that could develop and hamper the light). It doesn’t require electricity to run. It instead harnesses the power of the sun. Light from the outside hits these bottles– which are installed in the roofs– and is refracted. This creates natural luminescence during the day for those who previously lived without the innate benefits of a lit environment.
The inventor, Alfredo Moser, never expected his device to spread. However, its usage skyrocketed in recent years. By the end of 2013, it’s expected that a million residences will be using this technology. And it’s popularity has inspired others to follow suit. MIT developed the technology behind the charitable initiative “Liter of Light” based off of Moser’s original idea. They too hope to reach the million-household mark and expect to do so by 2015.
Millions of people who once lived in darkness now have the opportunity to reap the benefits of the light. All thanks to a simple idea leading the way towards a brighter future for all.
Image: Thomas Edison received a patent for his light bulb in January 1880.
Restored photolithograph courtesy of National Archives.
Image: Installation diagram by Liter of Light.
Image: Installed Moser bottle by Liter of Light. Courtesy of Global Nation.