Field of Science

Energy-saving lights with biological theme

The library used to have tall, decorative (?) architectural fixtures studded with big, glowing incandescent bulbs that were expensive (and hard) to replace and as incandescent bulbs get phased out, impossible to replace. Since they were decorative in function, it's pretty hard to argue that they weren't a big waste of energy. So what do you do? This is no idle problem. The plant dryer, a box that holds plant presses, in our herbarium is heated by the tremendous inefficiency of four 100-watt incandescent bulbs. Now what? Trying to find just the right heating element is a problem. One tech suggested just buying a case of 100w bulbs and putting the problem off a couple of years. Given this type of committment to energy savings and solving technological problems, it was quite a surprise to see new what look like LED light fixtures being installed. And as a bonus, they were designed in a double helix, the shape of DNA, except for the lack of the paired nucleotide bases between the two strands in four different colors (a necessity). OK, so they didn't consult with a biologist, but it does solve the bulb/energy/decorative problem with more imagination than usual. We gots a whole aging building of bandaid fixes. Good old low bid planning.

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