Brits Hunt for Oldest Bulb

By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 31, 2009 6:12 PM CST
A view of the first incandescent electric lamp by Sir Joseph Wilson Swan.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – The UK’s Royal Society of Chemistry has offered a $700 prize for the lucky Briton who turns up with the oldest working light bulb in the nation, the Telegraph reports. The society hopes the search will produce a bulb even older than the current world record holder—a lamp that has burned at a California firehouse since 1901.

The record is a point of pride for Englishmen: though Thomas Edison invented the incandescent bulb, the first demonstration of electric light was made by a Brit, Joseph Swan, in 1879. A replica of Swan’s accomplishment is to be unveiled Monday on the 130th anniversary of the feat. The search for the oldest specimen will not be easy: About 903 million domestic bulbs are thought to exist in the United Kingdom.