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Hacking the Fluorescent Light

CowboyNeal posted more than 8 years ago | from the turn-off-your-love-light dept.

Technology 284

DynaSoar writes "MSNBC reports on an elegant hack performed on the common fluorescent tube. By mixing phosphorescent material with the usual white fluorescent material, American Environmental Products has developed a tube that continues to glow when shut off. Originally intended for submarines, and then used in places where terrorists could disrupt services, they are also perfect for power outages, providing some light so you don't have to thrash around in the dark looking for your candles and flashlights. Since the 'hack' is inside the tube, they can also be removed from their fixtures and carried around, as well as provide light even if they're shattered."

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first, man (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13257930)

"one small step", and all that jazz...

Light Sabres ! (3, Funny)

cosmic_0x526179 (209008) | more than 8 years ago | (#13257933)

OMG, all they need to do is put a hard-shield around the glass tube ;P

Re:Light Sabres ! (2, Informative)

cdrudge (68377) | more than 8 years ago | (#13258061)

According to the end of the article, they've already done it...well...maybe not lightsaber quality but at least enough to survive a hammer impact.

Re:Light Sabres ! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13258257)

That's just a rubber type coating. It prevents the glass from scattering all over the place, but the glass still breaks. This is nothing new, shatter-"proof" lights are used in many applications.

It does not prevent the glass from breaking, it just encases the glass so it can't go anywhere and cause injury.

Re:Light Sabres ! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13258090)

lol what?

uses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13257934)

besides that it's an interesting toy, what would be a real use for common people of this tube?

-m-m-

Re:uses (4, Funny)

ciroknight (601098) | more than 8 years ago | (#13257953)

Are you kidding? I think if they make it commercially available I'll replace every light in the house with these!

Glow in the dark lightbulbs is one of the best ideas I've ever heard. Think about when you're leaving a room and someone has left before you and turns out a light. No big deal you can still see. And how about everything that the blurb mentions? So quick to dismiss all of that?

These things even glow when broken, which is just mega cool. Innovation at its best.

Re:uses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13257963)

How do I sleep if the thing stays lit?

Re:uses (4, Funny)

ciroknight (601098) | more than 8 years ago | (#13258024)

Don't put it in the room where you sleep. Or for that matter your TV room.

And if you still live with your mom, that could possibly be the same room..

Re:uses (1)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | more than 8 years ago | (#13258147)

They make great light sabres!

2 words (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13257937)

Light Saber

Wondering about this hack... (1)

Azadre (632442) | more than 8 years ago | (#13257939)

Aren't fluorescent bulbs the ones that implode if mishandled? I just don't want a face full of glass when the power is out. If I am incorrect, then this hack is awesome.

Re:Wondering about this hack... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13257961)

Aren't fluorescent bulbs the ones that implode if mishandled?

Incandescent (regular) bulbs implode if mishandled too.

Re:Wondering about this hack... (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 8 years ago | (#13257979)

not that i have seen, at work there was a trolly filled with flourescent tubes in the back and of course eventually one was broken, it was just snapped in two, with a few shards but far fewer than any incandescent bulb i have ever seen break. older tubes might shatter but now they are coated with something.

Re:Wondering about this hack... (1)

BigDogCH (760290) | more than 8 years ago | (#13257994)

NO, they explode [slashdot.org] , hehe. Sorry, I can't think about Fluorescent Lights without thinking about this story. It has really impacted me.

For those who missed it... (1)

hackwrench (573697) | more than 8 years ago | (#13258157)

those were filled with petrol

Re:Wondering about this hack... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13257997)

Yep. A maintenance guy dropped one in my office just the other day. More correctly, he had leaned it vertically against his ladder with one end resting on the floor. It fell over, and detonated when the other end impacted the floor. I wasn't watching the guy work, I just heard a loud pop, glanced over and saw an expanding cloud of glass fragments in the air, and quickly put my head down and turned away until everything landed

There were tiny, tiny bits of broken glass EVERYWHERE. I mean, it flew far. We made the maintenance people come in and vacuum, but we're all still happening upon little fragments of glass.

Considering how long those kinds of bulbs have been in use, and how litigious people are these days, it's a wonder they industry hasn't done anything to make things a little safer-- like maybe coating it with some kind of plastic so it behaves more like a car windshield when it breaks instead of a fragmentation grenade.

Re:Wondering about this hack... (1)

iantri (687643) | more than 8 years ago | (#13258037)

No, that's halogen bulbs like you find in the stand-up lamps. (they typically run 300-400W or so). And the implosion will only occur if they are breach while on; i.e. you hit it with a hammer while it's running or you handle the bulb with your hands (contrary to the instructions) getting skin oil on it causing it to break when it heats up.

Florescent bulbs just shatter like an ordinary piece of gas.

Re:Wondering about this hack... (1)

TheGavster (774657) | more than 8 years ago | (#13258156)

In the event of a power outage, they are no more likely to do anything than any other flourescent lamp. I mean, sure there's the outside chance of a massive power surge before the outage doing something weird, but in general they're safe unless you treat them like javelins or lightsabers.

Frist psot! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13257941)

That's right.

wait a minute... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13257943)

how do you turn these lights off.

Re:wait a minute... (2, Funny)

nxtr (813179) | more than 8 years ago | (#13257985)

You shoot them out. Oh wait.

Re:wait a minute... (3, Funny)

RevengeOfPoopJuggler (872968) | more than 8 years ago | (#13258000)

They come with a rusty spoon for you to gouge your eyes out with. Clever, really...

Re:wait a minute... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13258031)

Rent them to ravers.

Re:wait a minute... (3, Funny)

DrWhizBang (5333) | more than 8 years ago | (#13258173)

think "duct tape".

If the women don't find you handsome...

Not to be nitpicky... (4, Insightful)

Exsam (768226) | more than 8 years ago | (#13257945)

but how is this a hack? I mean its not something we could do ourselves at home and while its really nifty I don't see its overall usefulness to the everyday person for the cost. Wouldn't it just be cheaper to install glow in the dark plastic strips along the hallways and such? Just my $0.02.

Re:Not to be nitpicky... (2, Insightful)

ciroknight (601098) | more than 8 years ago | (#13257967)

But that'd make your house a little bit too Star Trek-ish for me..

Hallways would be the best use for these, but also in rooms where you don't want to get stuck if the power goes out, like a storage room or a kitchen.

It may be cheaper the low-tech way, but damned if it wouldn't look cool.

Extra UV (4, Insightful)

jfengel (409917) | more than 8 years ago | (#13258056)

There's a serious lack of actual data in the articles, but my suspicion is that by putting glow-in-the-dark stuff on the inside of the tube it benefits from all the extra UV that you get inside the tube.

A fluorescent lamp glows by discharging electricity into a gas which then gives off UV. The phosphorescent coating inside the tube takes the UV and turns it into light.

The glow-in-the-dark strips also respond to UV light, but in a way that stores and releases the energy later. You could just put up strips, but only a tiny percentage of the UV light from the tubes would hit them; the rest would leak out into the room. (And they're designed to give off as little UV as possible, since it's unhealthy and wasteful; you want it as visible light.)

So by effectively putting the UV strips inside the tube, you charge them up when the light is on. You'd have to cover the walls with UV strips to get the same effect outside the lamp.

For everyday people? Probably not. Not in your home, at least, where you probably want it dark when you turn off the lights. But in office buildings, these could be a nice alternative to the emergency lights that are required in most places. No extra wiring; you just fit fancy bulbs into the existing fluorescent fixtures.

Re:Extra UV (2, Informative)

NormalVisual (565491) | more than 8 years ago | (#13258149)

So by effectively putting the UV strips inside the tube, you charge them up when the light is on. You'd have to cover the walls with UV strips to get the same effect outside the lamp.

You still won't get a comparable effect - the phosphor and glass envelope does a pretty good job of filtering the UV such that only a fraction is radiated out into the room. Having the phosphor inside the tube exposes it to a *much* higher UV level, and most phosphorescent compounds respond a whole lot better to UV than to visible light. Compare how much brighter a glow-in-the-dark item is after exposure to a UV-rich blacklight vs. a regular incandescent or fluorescent lamp.

So simple (1, Insightful)

koan (80826) | more than 8 years ago | (#13257951)

Why didn't i think of that?

Re:So simple (1)

MPHellwig (847067) | more than 8 years ago | (#13258104)

Perhaps you never had a watch with a light and glow in the dark strips in it?

Re:So simple (1)

koan (80826) | more than 8 years ago | (#13258175)

Actually I did...it was a radium dial =)

Old people will freak out (4, Funny)

acidradio (659704) | more than 8 years ago | (#13257952)

While this is a great product, I can see people like my granny going nuts over this. She can't handle the TV anymore (called me because it wouldn't work - I guess it has to be plugged in!), the telephone (has no idea how voicemail works, thinks that I am my answering machine). When lightbulbs exist that won't turn off, that might just be over the top.

Well, now... (5, Funny)

Tiberius_Fel (770739) | more than 8 years ago | (#13257957)

I am installing these in my fleet of nuclear subs right away! :P

Of course (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13257958)

"...used in places where terrorists could disrupt services,..."

Nothing like a little shilling for that fat government contract, yes?

Bleh (5, Insightful)

LearnToSpell (694184) | more than 8 years ago | (#13257962)

...used in places where terrorists could disrupt services, they are also perfect for power outages...

Because we all know that terrorist attacks are way more common than power outages. I hate this "War on Terror." It's the major reason for doing anything at this point, and it's not a particularly good one.

Re:Bleh (3, Informative)

rustbear (852420) | more than 8 years ago | (#13258003)

What is this "war on terror" that you speak of? Ahhh... I bet you mean the "struggle against violent extremism"...

http://www.iht.com/articles/2005/07/26/news/terror .php [iht.com]

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2005/07/27/opinion/ smith/main712317.shtml [cbsnews.com]

Re:Bleh (1)

computerdude33 (890573) | more than 8 years ago | (#13258166)

No, it's called Debbie.

Re:Bleh (4, Funny)

Blapto (839626) | more than 8 years ago | (#13258406)

Personally, I prefer "The War Against Terror(ism)." If only for the acronym.

(You may need to check with a British person/google for a definition.)

Re:Bleh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13258012)

Besides, if I'm trying to take down terrorists, I want the lights off. On the off chance that they don't have night vision goggles, darkness is a great cover.

lightsabers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13257964)

lightsabers

DO IT

Portable -- nice (1, Interesting)

Vandil X (636030) | more than 8 years ago | (#13257966)

From TFA: "The tubes can even be removed from their fixture and carried around as portable light sources."

Now this is impressive. Unscrew the bulb/tube and walk with it to safety. Very nice idea.

"Even if the tubes are shattered by an explosion, the shards will still provide light"

A smart idea. Also can serve as a sort of "bread crumbs" way for people to explore in dark passageways and find their way back out. Kind of hard to clean up shattered glass tubing.

Re:Portable -- nice (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13258105)

"Where's the door? how do I get out of here, it's all dark - Oh fuck, somebody unscrewed all those glow-in-the-dark lightbulbs!"

Lights Out (1)

jdp816 (895616) | more than 8 years ago | (#13257972)

So what do you do when you really do want the lights off? Wait? Geez.

just what I need (3, Funny)

egburr (141740) | more than 8 years ago | (#13257973)

I always wanted a light bulb that I couldn't turn off. I suppose I could just remove the switch and connect the wires, but this solution is so much simpler.

RTFA already (0, Redundant)

GoNINzo (32266) | more than 8 years ago | (#13257975)

RTFA, and you'll see they cost 5 times what standard tubs cost. I don't see how they could justify that expense. Especially since most people can't reach the ceiling where they are normally mounted. (Though I'm 6'5", I could.)

I wonder how deadly the chemicals in these are compared to normal tubes as well.

Re:RTFA already (1)

pavon (30274) | more than 8 years ago | (#13258021)

In several buildings where I have worked, there are a few lights in each (large) room near the exits that cannot be turned off. They are considered safety/security lights, and even remain on when the power is lost (fed by a generator). Something like this could likely be less expensive than the electricity used to keep them on all the time. They would likely give off less light than a normal bulb, so you would need more of them, although the security lights generally run dimmer than normal anyway.

I definitely agree that you won't see these in the home very often - they are more useful for certain industrial situations, and even there, their cost is such that they won't be replacing all florescent bulbs anytime soon. However, I don't see why they need to be that expensive, and I'd imagine the cost would go down significantly as volume of sales go up.

Re:RTFA already (1)

GoNINzo (32266) | more than 8 years ago | (#13258049)

Those 'rooms' won't be going away, they will still need generator power. The lighting portion is a tiny fraction of what is done in there normally. Things like fire alarms, emergency response systems, and phones are not going away.

It really depends on the life of the bulb. If it's super long on the order of years, then it's worth it. But it's a standard bulb life, it's better to stick with normal response equipment.

Re:RTFA already (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13258032)

Maybe they'll figure out how to put a bunch of these "tubes" together and construct a series of surfaces people can place their feet on to reach the bulbs. I think there should be multiple surfaces with different degrees of height, because all ceilings aren't the same, called "rungs" or something. I like the name "ladder" for this invention! It's pretty catchy!

Re:RTFA already (1)

imboboage0 (876812) | more than 8 years ago | (#13258082)

5 times what the standard tubs cost? That's alot of money for a light.....

Re:RTFA already (1)

Dun Malg (230075) | more than 8 years ago | (#13258097)

I wonder how deadly the chemicals in these are compared to normal tubes as well.

Since radium and tritium aren't allowed to be sold in something as fragile as a fluorescent tube, they probably use zinc sulfide as their phosphorescent material. Zinc sulfide MSDS says "Irritant. Harmful if swallowed due to the generation of hydrogen sulfide." You'd have to eat quite a lot of broken tube debris to ingest enough to develop a harmful concentration of H2S gas. Obviously, the glass shards from the broken tube pose a far greater risk than the phosphorescent materials inside.

Re:RTFA already (5, Informative)

Dun Malg (230075) | more than 8 years ago | (#13258167)

After reading the tedious patent, apparently they are using strontium aluminate, not zinc sulfide. The toxicology on strontium aluminate is "This product is non-toxic". It's also reactive only with acids, and doesn't burn. Basically, about as hazardous as dirt.

Re:RTFA already (1)

NormalVisual (565491) | more than 8 years ago | (#13258200)

I'm guessing strontium aluminate - it glows for a much longer period of time than zinc sulfate.

It's a shame that tritium isn't more widely used in the US. The phosphor and glass container do a pretty good job of mopping up the radiation, and it's reasonably long-lived. Should the container break, the gas dissipates quickly, and because it's so light, it won't settle near the floor of an enclosed space in any real concentration.

Re:RTFA already (1)

atcurtis (191512) | more than 8 years ago | (#13258154)


I wonder how deadly the chemicals in these are compared to normal tubes as well.


Given that normal tubes have a drop of mercury within them (mercury vapour, when excited, emits UV light which the coating converts to visible light), how "safe" are normal tubes?

Re:RTFA already (1)

cinnamon colbert (732724) | more than 8 years ago | (#13258168)

for the 100th time,it is difficult to compare costs for a commodity item produced in the dekamillions to something new.

Re:RTFA already (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13258340)

If you install ONE tube per important fixture, they become more reasonable.

reinventing (2, Insightful)

nozzo (851371) | more than 8 years ago | (#13257981)

This is an excellent example of advancing something that we take for granted. Although the idea of carrying one of these is really bad considering the thin glass walls of the tube, as a safety device it makes sense for these to be fitted to shops, warehouses and offices.

Erm.. (3, Insightful)

Jicksta (760596) | more than 8 years ago | (#13257987)

Guys, I think the big reason this hasn't caught on already is that it would mean your lights could never be turned off instantly.

Your room would remain lit up for the few hours it takes for the glowing substance to completely discharge.

As neat as this feature is, I certainly wouldn't want it in my house.

Re:Erm.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13258075)

If it isn't using any electricity who cares whether it goes off instantly? If certain rooms require that then don't use one in it.

Sheesh.

Re:Erm.. (4, Funny)

fbjon (692006) | more than 8 years ago | (#13258100)

Yes but it's great for preventing murder mysteries!

Re:Erm.. (4, Insightful)

Staplerh (806722) | more than 8 years ago | (#13258103)

As neat as this feature is, I certainly wouldn't want it in my house.

Correct, it'd be a horrible addition to a standard house. In some circumstances, where the lights never turn off, this adds another level of safety.

For example, I work in a bizzare housing complex near a Canadian public university. There are no windows, few doors and in many hallways absolutely zero sources of external light. While we do have emergency lights for power outages, tubes like these would certainly be useful to give confidence that one could count on a very low level of light to navigate within the first hour or so of a blackout.

Re:Erm.. (1)

nharmon (97591) | more than 8 years ago | (#13258380)

Your room would remain lit up for the few hours it takes for the glowing substance to completely discharge.

Just anticipate when you need to turn the lights off, and flip the switch a few hours before. :)

Has to be said... (4, Funny)

thewiz (24994) | more than 8 years ago | (#13257989)

What a bright idea!

I'll be here all night, ladies and gents!

Re:Has to be said... (1)

Soul-Burn666 (574119) | more than 8 years ago | (#13258093)

Indeed it's brilliant!

Don't they glow already? (1)

marat (180984) | more than 8 years ago | (#13257992)

Many fluorescent lamps already glow long enough in the dark to be annoying. And there are already emergency lights anywhere where terrorists (or natural disaster) can disrupt services, and presumably their batteries last longer, and they are controllable.

Well probably still a nice idea by itself, unlike using terrorist attack for the marketing.

Re:Don't they glow already? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13258392)

What you may not know is that the batteries in many of these emergency lights need to be changed (1 year? 5 years? not sure). So many of these lights no longer work when the power goes out. Check the one in your local McDonnalds, it probably does work anymore, where these tubes would

H4XXORZ (0, Offtopic)

nxtr (813179) | more than 8 years ago | (#13257998)

I AM 73H 1337! I H4X UR L1GHT SO 1T DOESN'T TURN 0FF! LOLLOLLOL!

The obvious problem... (1)

qubex (206736) | more than 8 years ago | (#13258004)

The obvious problem I see is that if you switch them off, they keep on glowing. Clearly these are not useful except in a handful of very specific situations.

Re:The obvious problem... (1)

nozzo (851371) | more than 8 years ago | (#13258050)

yeah specific like . . . submarines! No, seriously though what about pedestrian underpasses? when the juice goes out I don't wanna be halfway through one of those when a power cut hits - imagine ... echoey, very dark, then you hear odd shuffling sounds from behind you and from the drain grates - shudder - like a James Herbert novel!

It cuts both ways...! (1)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 8 years ago | (#13258007)

...Originally intended for submarines, and then used in places where terrorists could disrupt services...

The terrorists could also use the same technology to continue their work after a [US] strike takes out power.

But the question is whether this is the same science in glow sticks or one Catholic rosary I have seen that glows in the dark.

Re:It cuts both ways...! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13258138)

But the question is whether this is the same science in glow sticks or one Catholic rosary I have seen that glows in the dark.

Like the rosary, not the glo-stick. The Glo-stick is a chemlight. The rosary is a phosphorescent light

Simple - a hobbyist could do it! here's how! (1)

MindPrison (864299) | more than 8 years ago | (#13258020)

The idea is clever, and real simple. All you do: 1) Purchase some glow-in-the-dark paint availiable at any common hobby store (not reflective paint, but glo-paint!) 2) Paint your "light stick..." he he ) (that's the neon tube to those of you that actually thought of something else). 3) Make sure you paint around the MIDDLE of the tube and not the contact-areas as the paint probably can catch fire if too close to the hot-coils inside the tube...that is...NOT near the terminals) 4) Now re-insert it into the socket armature. Have fun! It works the same way...it'll glow for hours. Now...you see...the man who invented this...probably did the same, but inside the tube instead....don't try THAT yourself..unless you have some smart way of filling the lamp with neon gas...again...and sealing tight! That's todays lesson for you - Have fun kids!

Re:Simple - a hobbyist could do it! here's how! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13258232)

Inside the tube probably works better though, because the light inside the tube is UV and more of it.

Found the patent (5, Informative)

GoNINzo (32266) | more than 8 years ago | (#13258029)

There's more detail on what he's doing with Patent 6,917,154 [uspto.gov] . It's definately not a hack, it's just a new (and obviously expensive) process. Interesting quote:
The after-glow phosphor of the scotopic after-glow lamp of the present invention is selected with a hyperbolic decay rate dropping to approximately ten (10%) percent of its initial brightness in about six minutes and to one-tenth that in an hour.
Anyway, read up, interesting stuff.

Re:Found the patent (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 8 years ago | (#13258143)

Ah, I see. They coat the inside of the bulb with large words, rendering it incomprehensible for up to an hour after the power goes out.

shards (1)

gcnaddict (841664) | more than 8 years ago | (#13258034)

if the tube breaks, not only can you use the shards for lighting for the next hour or so, you can also easily dispose of the shards too (well duh, theres no lighting and all the pieces of the tube are glowing :P)

Make them glow in the dark? (1)

ShyGuy91284 (701108) | more than 8 years ago | (#13258042)

How incredibly new! *sarcasm* I think a lot of us had glow in the dark stars when we were kids. What I'm curious about is if they were able to increase the intensity far greater then those glowing pieces of plastic.... Nothing to see here. Move along.

Have had them in Japan for years... (5, Informative)

CaptainBogus (816440) | more than 8 years ago | (#13258057)

I have one in my bedroom here in Japan for the last four years. It is a ring florescent tube that glows like a night light after the light goes out. The light is made by NEC and is called Hotarukku (a play on the word hotaru, which is Japanese for firefly). It seems they launched the product in March 2000. http://www.nelt.co.jp/navi/la_shg/fre_shg.htm [nelt.co.jp] (Japanese) gives specs and has some pics showing the room lit with the light on and off.

Re:Have had them in Japan for years... (1)

eck011219 (851729) | more than 8 years ago | (#13258324)

Wow - that's got to be the fastest reply with comfortingly humorous cartoon renderings of Slashdotter's speculations that I've ever seen!

Personally, these would drive me batty. But I can certainly see the value in them.

Mostly, though, I like the sea of blinking LEDs when I walk through my dark office on the way to the bathroom in the middle of the night (don't worry - I work at home) - I find it very Star Trekkie and makes me feel like more of a cool dude than I do when the lights are on and you can see my stacks of work and empty Mountain Dew cans. These lights would blow my one moment of self-envy. So I respectfully say, "no thank you," to innovation.

'Course, in the event of a terrorist attack on my house (which seems to be a disproportionate source of concern around here), my one-man office will be a blind madhouse of chaotic fervor. Good thing it's near the kitchen where I keep a flashlight.

Or maybe this anti-terrorism application doesn't really apply to me ...

Re:Have had them in Japan for years... (1)

freaker_TuC (7632) | more than 8 years ago | (#13258346)

I visited that site and they also seem to have a special SEX serie ... I wonder if it gives the warm glow that's needed in my bedroom here [nelt.co.jp] .

They also have Fresh, Mild and Relax ... :p

Sometimes I despair for the world. (2)

crovira (10242) | more than 8 years ago | (#13258060)

This is a solution desperately looking for a problem. It isn't even a good one. It could only work in basements and office buildings, at night, if there are no windows nearby. (I presume you would be able to see your way around by the steady glow of the raging fires shining in through the broken windows.)

This was indeed a hack and so is the guy.

Didn't he ever ask himself "Why?"

Re:Sometimes I despair for the world. (1)

Freexe (717562) | more than 8 years ago | (#13258148)

Something like these would be prefect for the Underground, where power failures leave you completly in the dark and happen fairly offen (normally for only a few seconds)

Re:Sometimes I despair for the world. (1)

sugar and acid (88555) | more than 8 years ago | (#13258370)

Um emergency lighting. Many public places are required to have emergency lighting that is able to continue to give out sufficient light for people to exit the buiding after power has been cut. Currently these lights use separate self-contained units with a lead acid battery and low voltage bulbs. This is a bit simpler and quicker to install, just change the fluorescence tubes.

Cool (1)

broothal (186066) | more than 8 years ago | (#13258068)

Yay. So now I wont need an extension cord when I play with my light saber any more. Because we all play with a light saber now and then, right guys? Guys?

Could this also be used for further energy savings (1)

under_score (65824) | more than 8 years ago | (#13258102)

By turning the light on and off and using the afterglow would it be possible to get a lower overall energy usage?

Re:Could this also be used for further energy savi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13258332)

no, a capacitator needs to be charged and an inductor needs to euh lets call it charged as well

the load procces takes up most power, besides flouresant light are pretty low in energy usage
i wonder if this harms the power usage of the lamps
basicaly the glow in the dark substance is poluting
the the coating that makes the light visible

but i'm no electrical engenier

Gas is *not* harmless ... (2, Informative)

jonathanweaver (534939) | more than 8 years ago | (#13258113)

The vapour in fluorescent tubes is mercury (Hg). Very bad to breathe, and perilous to touch too (unless you wash hard, and even potent cleansers aren't designed to remove heavy metal contamination).

That's why they need phosphorescent coating in the first place: the excited Hg vapour emits UV, and it's actually the phosphors that 'fluoresce' visible EM.

Competent safety procedures include vacating the area of a fluorescent bulb break for at least ten minutes, followed by thorough cleanup and HAZMAT disposal of the materials used.

Re:Gas is *not* harmless ... (1)

cloudofstrife (887438) | more than 8 years ago | (#13258255)

Maybe the afterglow of a busted fluorescent light should be interpreted as "Get the hell out of here!" intstead of "Ooh, look at the pretty lights!".

A solution to the problem (1)

azrane2005 (860037) | more than 8 years ago | (#13258114)

This will work great when the water-based [slashdot.org] fireplace blows a breaker!

possibilities for energy conservation? (1)

patreek (896440) | more than 8 years ago | (#13258131)

One obvious (at least to me) use for this that no one has mentioned yet is energy conservation. Just turn on your glowing fluorescent light, let it charge up, switch it off, and Ta-Da! you have light without using electricity for about an hour. True, the light is much weaker than standard electric lighting, but it is a step in the right direction.

Re:possibilities for energy conservation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13258144)

But where does the energy to ch--

oh.

I bow before your mad trolling skillz.

And this is a hack... how? (3, Insightful)

durandal61 (705295) | more than 8 years ago | (#13258133)

A company produces an interesting variation of a product that has been mass-produced for decades, and it's called a hack? And how did you manage to get your shiny new favourite word, "terrorist" in a summary on flourescent tubes? Let me read that again. Interesting story, puerile summary.

Re:And this is a hack... how? (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 8 years ago | (#13258291)

And how did you manage to get your shiny new favourite word, "terrorist" in a summary on flourescent tubes?

      Everyone knows that people who buy incandescent lights are terrorists. Studies have shown that every single terrorist has installed a light bulb at some time in their lives.

      Personally, I applaud people who use the word terrorist for everything. The sooner the word is abused, the sooner people will stop using it and things can go back to normal. If you don't agree with me, then you must be a terrorist too!

Re:And this is a hack... how? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13258321)

I've been using lights like these ever since I moved in to my house 8 years ago, and this is supposed to be some sort of new invention???

Wait a minute... (1)

DrWhizBang (5333) | more than 8 years ago | (#13258191)

does it involve gasoline and soap? 'Cause if so, it's been done and it doesn't work [slashdot.org] too good.

Been done - and much cheaper. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13258258)

Go to your local hobby store, buy glow in the dark paint. It is not opaque . . . paint it on your light tube, install . . . and you'll get the same emergency lighting.

It's also in the anarchist cookbook.

A simple solution (3, Funny)

grozzie2 (698656) | more than 8 years ago | (#13258304)

Executive Summary: Marketing to the traditional 'hot button' market bullets of efficiency and ecological awareness is no longer effective in the marketplace. Recent changes in marketplace mindset require an adjustment in marketing philosophy that will allow for increased margins on traditional commodity items. Initial trials of the new marketing concepts have proven very effective, and an overall shift of marketing strategy is necessary for the company to continue operations.

Problem: Domestically produced commodity items are no longer cost competetive in the marketplace. Increased competition from overseas manufacturing is producing insurmountable pricing pressure on commodity items. Company is approaching insolvency.

Solution: Minor cosmetic changes to commodity product manufacturing process. Re-write marketing material to reflect the change, emphasis on the 'terrorist' application. Increase sale price dramatically to reflect the new 'terrorist' application.

Results: Small increase in sales volume, substantial improvement of product margins. Financial insolvency averted.

Conclusions: Terrorist hysteria is an effective marketing tool. Properly exploited in the marketing literature, the terrorist hysteria can breath new financial life into any product that is no longer producing adaquate margins through traditional channels.

Future Risk Analysis: A fundamental shift in marketing strategy brings with it inherent market risks. The major risk of this conceptual change is that the public mindset will begin to discard the 'terrorist threat', rendering increased marketing efforts in this area ineffective. This risk is deemed minimal at this time, the majority of the expenditures required to maintain the public mindset are being undertaken by the federal government, with a virtually unlimited budget for this marketing effort. This paradigm shift by our company is essentially parasite marketing where our relatively small marketing budget is being used to leverage the expenditures of the federal government. This strategy should remain effective for a minimum of one election cycle, so we should see improvements in the bottom line for at least the next 10 quarters. The primary risk moving forward is that the federal government expenditures to promote terrorist hysteria are reduced, with a resultant loss of marketplace mindset for this strategy. This is a relatively small risk moving forward, and partially offset by hundreds of companies such as our own, all focussed on re-working marketing strategies to promote and extend the terrorist hysteria.

Recommendations: Marketing budget needs to be re-allocated. Television advertising should only be purchased on networks whose news organizations properly emphasize the terrorist threat. The same for print media advertising. The marketing department needs to re-allocate human resources, emphasis on 'product efficiency' needs to be lowered, with appropriate staffing reductions. A new team needs to be established to emphasize the 'security' aspect of the product. A 'threat analyst' should be hired, and put in charge of this new team, who will be responsible for producing white papers emphasizing the 'security' aspect of the product, with particular detail on the 'terrorist' aspect.

Re:A simple solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13258343)

Mod this karma whore up! He worked hard for it.

Pshaw (1)

burtdub (903121) | more than 8 years ago | (#13258329)

MacGyver's known this for years. Why, with just a tub of cottage cheese and a Tickle-me-Elmo he can turn it into a fully functional PS3.
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