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Still Burning Bright
Photo: S. Suharjoto
In an auspicious location at the Livermore Fire Department in Central California, a four-watt, hand blown, carbon filament, common light bulb hangs from the ceiling. What is not so common is the fact that this bulb has been burning continuously for 108 years!

Known as the Centennial Bulb, this humble incandescent has entered the pages of Ripley’s Believe It or Not! and the Guinness Book of World Records, as the world’s longest-lasting light bulb. Over the years, it has been turned off only a handful of times.

Manufactured by the Shelby Electric Company in the late 1890’s, a number of bulbs of its kind surprisingly still exist and are yet functioning.

Experts say, the luminary’s long life is credited to its “low power, near continuous operation and dedicated power supply.”

Ironically, those very same attributes seem to keep human beings running and functioning into their 80’s, 90’s and even 100+ years.

Once a very sparse population, centenarians (those living 100 years or longer), in the United States alone, are expected to approach 80,000 in number by the year 2010. Worldwide, there are pockets of people groups where centenarians and longevity in general are especially noted. 

Three of those cultures were studied by National Geographic Magazine in 2005. According to the publication, “a long, healthy life is no accident. It begins with good genes but is also depends on good habits.”

Longevity Indicators

Experts on ageing and long term care, have identified six indicators that determine longevity – genetics, diet, activity, psycho-spiritual factors, social factors and chance.

National Geographic isolated several longevity components common to all three populations’ studied – Japanese Okinawans, Italian Sardinians and Loma Linda, California Seventh-day Adventists. While each of these widely separated groups had their own unique outlook and habits that contributed to a long, healthy life, there were several factors they all held in common.

All three populations consumed a predominantly plant based diet, that can be likened to the Centennial Bulb’s four-watt “low power” demand for efficient operation.

Each of the three groups embraced a lifestyle of hard work, exercise and activity which corresponds to the Livermore Light’s attribute of “near continuous operation.”

The social component of family and friends prioritized by all three cultures – as well as, the spiritual component of faith in God espoused by the Adventists – correlates with the “dedicated power supply” that has kept the Centennial Light burning bright for 108 years.

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By Kathy A. Lewis. Copyright © 2009 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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