Tuesday, 14 April 2009

St. Edisson's fire.

Frank never liked light bulbs. He wondered about darkened rooms for hours, preferring to bruise his shins on coffee tables rather than operate the light switch; useless thought this would be anyway as the lamps were bulbless.

For Frank knew more about light bulbs than anyone else should. He lived with the knowledge everyday and every sun set he would once again relive the moments when he first discovered the horrible truth.

Filaments, we are told are merely a coil of wire designed to generate resistance to the current, and so convert the energy to heat and light. From there it caused the gas in the bulb to glow. An inert gas. To glow... this bothered Frank so he read into it.

Xenon and other inert gases can not react in ways that other metals and non metals might due to their electron stability. They can not join in with others, make exciting molecules or worthwhile structures. And although they must have been made at some point and ultimately decay to energy-less particles later in life, their midlives are simply redundant.

They do however hold other properties. When pushed together, they can change their formation to create a tetrahedron, much like plastic balls do in a ball-pool. Each can only close so far to another atom until they are pushed through and come out the other side. The electrons must be excited to have anything to happen, but the electrons are too close to the other sub atomic particles to ever be excited enough to jump to the next level (a process known as the glass elevator).

As the electrons can not therefore function as natural electrons might they are known as mute-electrons or faux-particles.

Scientists knew that these duds were of no use, but then realised that there lack of use gave them a purpose. They were reliably mute and could be trusted to never react. Early uses included fire proof mats, test tube beakers and babies' dummies. But when Edisson wanted something to hold his electric fire in place, he did not know the repercussions. He filled a beaker with what is now called St. Edisson's fire and ran a current through a wire contained within. The result was a disaster.

The room began to glow with uncontrolled mute electrons. Edisson tried to shout but the mute electrons that had been emitted in to the room absorbed the vibrations, unable to react as standard electrons might. Opening a window the electrons finally dissipated in the sunlight, killed off by the holy nature of the photons pushing them down to the ground from their impacts.

The Edison haze was unable to move from the floor and he could finally speak. But he didn't want to. The haze was at least contained in the room. Controlled for now at least. He knew that when the sun faded, the glow would start again and he would once again be surrounded and subdued by the great mute. He would not call anyone in to the room as it would let the haze out to his family's rooms. He stood in his room and awaited his death.

Today the bulb is in every home, under every bed, in every loft. We don't think about its contents whenever it operates and we rarely think of the consequences of breaking one open. But Frank Edisson does. He is still in the room by himself waiting for the sun to set again.

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