The Dirty Industrial Rivalry That Determined Whether America’s Electricity Would Be AC or DC

The Public Battle Between Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse Cost the Lives of Both Line Workers and Animals

Before new forms of technology became a regular fact of American life, the mingling of public hopes and fears around these innovations was more obvious than it is today. By the 1880s, for example, people had become accustomed to gas-powered light, but electric lighting was still a novelty. Famed American inventor Thomas Edison built up his system for the distribution of electric power, but in 1886 he gained a formidable rival who threatened to bring his whole company down. George Westinghouse’s innovative and effective “alternating” or “pulsating” current, AC, was …

The Invention of the Light Bulb Did Not Conquer the Night

A Museum Exhibit Explores How Painters Depicted Darkness Even as the World Embraced Artificial Light

For many of us in the modern world, light at the flick of a switch feels so natural that it’s difficult to imagine a time when even the meager flame …

Are Electric Companies Facing Extinction?

Solar Panels and Smart Meters Are Threatening an Industry That Doesn't Know How to Innovate

When the Supreme Court upheld the EPA’s right to regulate carbon and other emissions from power plants, it set off another round of complaint from the utility industry. Sure, this …

A Future Awash in LED Light

The Unexpected Rise of This Bright, Energy-Efficient Lighting Technology Spells the End for Edison’s Incandescent Lamp

The Nobel Prize in Physics just awarded to Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano, and Shuji Nakamura for their work on blue light-emitting diodes—LEDs as they are commonly known—reveals the extent to …