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Early Swan lamp.

Early Swan lamp.
4 0 c m
actual image size: 22cm x 32cm


The English chemist Joseph Swan (1828-1914) demonstrated his lamp in February 1879. It had a carbon filament which glowed when a current flowed through it. The glass bulb contained a partial vacuum; there was so little oxygen in the bulb that the filament could get very hot without catching fire.

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© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library

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