Light Bulb Filament Length
I wanted to know how long the average light bulb filament
is. My Current Science Magazine said that the filament was much longer
than the science room. (pretty big!)
The length of the filament is most easily determined by breaking a light
bulb and measuring the filament. The filament "looks" like it is about an
inch, or a couple of cm, long.
The diameter of the tungsten wire is very small. It is less than two
thousandths of an inch, or about 1/20 mm diameter if you measure it with a
micrometer. The mass is 0.0176 grams if you measure it with a sensitive
scale. It would take 1,600 filaments to weigh an ounce.
If you use a magnifying glass or microscope you will find that the wire is
formed into a coil. The coil is then formed into a larger coil. The
filament looks short, but the actual wire is longer.
If you try to stretch the filament you will find that it breaks easily and
you cannot find the exact length. The stretched length seems to be several
times that of the unstretched length.
If you calculate the length of the filament is based on its mass, size and
density, you will find it to be about half a meter, or a foot or two. It is
not the size of a room.
This is tough to generalize because there are so many other contributing
factors, but in general specular reflection is more efficient than diffuse
reflection, but that depends on "how rough the surface is". The actual
surface area of a given 2-dimensional geometric area of a rough surface is
much greater than a "smooth" surface because of all the "hills and
valleys". This alone provides a greater area for absorption. The
complication of the absorptivity as a function of angle of incidence
enters in, however. These are just a few of the contributing provisions
that prevent sweeping generalizations.
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Update: June 2012