Fluorescent Light (Encyclopedia of Science)
Fluorescent light is the most common type of electrical light used in the United States. It is estimated that there are 1.5 billion fluorescent lamps in use nationwide, mostly in commercial settings such offices, factories, stores, and schools. Fluorescent lighting is popular due to its high efficiency: it produces four to six times more light than an incandescent lamp consuming the same electrical power.
Luminescence is the term used to describe the process in which light is produced by a means other than heating (incandescence refers to the production of light from heat). Fluorescence is luminescence in which light of a visible color is emitted from a substance that is stimulated or excited by light or other forms of electromagnetic radiation (radiation that has properties of both an electric and magnetic wave and that travels through a vacuum with the speed of light) or by certain other means. Once the stimulation stops, however, the light emitted by the stimulated substance lasts no more than about 10 nanoseconds (10 billionths of a second).
Humans observed fluorescence in certain rocks and other substances for hundreds of years before fully understanding its nature. In 1852, English mathematician and physicist George Gabriel Stokes (1819903) finally named and explained the phenomena (he named it after fluorite, a strongly fluorescent mineral). Stokes discovered that...
(The entire section is 764 words.)
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