Introduction and Spread of Artificial Illumination: A Human History Retrospective

  • Abraham HaimEmail author
  • Boris A. Portnov


People knew about electricity for centuries. However the first successful attempt to use electricity for lighting can be credited to Sir Humphrey Davy who discovered in 1801 the incandescence of an energized conductor. Yet the idea of using electricity for lighting “took off” only after the American inventor Thomas Alva Edison developed his deep vacuum incandescent lamp with a carbon cotton filament. Thomas Alva Edison also contributed to the practical use of electricity by installing the first electrical lightning system at Pearl Street in NYC in 1882. Since then both light bulbs electricity production have become relatively cheap and more reliable. As a result of rapid electricity proliferation electric lighting has substituted most traditional lighting sources making human population virtually independent of natural L/D cycles. The full range of implications of this transition for human health are yet to be determined.


Electricity Lighting Incandescence Light bulbs Electricity timeline Electrification rates Light/dark (L/D) cycles Health effects 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Interdisciplinary Research inUniversity of HaifaHaifaIsrael
  2. 2.Department of Natural Resources & Environmental ManagementUniversity of HaifaHaifaIsrael

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