Paul Revere And His New High Tech Lanterns

Paul Revere was always very cutting edge. He used the steeple of the Old North Church in Boston and his lantern as something like the world's first cellphone tower, calling the revolutionaries to arms with his "one if by land, two if by sea" signal. Now the church continues to keep up with the times by installing LED lighting inside to replace its old incandescents.

Old North's ceiling vaults had been only dimly lit by the old incandescents, and they frequently burned out, [church director] Pignone said. The LEDs are projected to last at least 25 times as long as the incandescent bulbs, at five times the efficiency. They also do not give off as much heat as the older lights, which caused ceiling paint to peel prematurely.

LEDs are similar to computer semiconductors, but they convert electricity directly to light, rather than heating a metal filament to the point of glowing incandescence. The light streams out of tiny glass domes, about the size of matchstick heads. They are more expensive than incandescents and compact fluorescents, but are being touted as eventual replacements for those lights because of their growing efficiency and predictions of increasingly lower costs.

It's possible that the two lights in the steeple that are traditionally lit only on Patriot's Day and other civic holidays will be replaced with LEDs as well. They're not exactly low-tech anyway; they're compact fluorescents now.

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