It’s Not Always Fun Being The Brightest Bulb

, , , , | Learning | December 21, 2020

My father and I have both always had interesting relationships with anything that uses electricity. He tends to have computers and cleaning appliances break for no explained reason, while I tend to have light bulbs blow around me. We also each have a lot of weird errors with any electronics we use in general, and while we don’t have an explanation for this phenomenon, many of my friends have observed and joked about it.

For instance, in my college physics lab, immediately before the lecture, we’re doing an assignment on circuits using five light bulbs. I pair up with one friend, while my cousin, also in the class, pairs up with another. Though I usually guide my friends through the labs because I have experience with physics in high school, my partner and I struggle because we can’t get the first light in the series circuit to work.

Me: “Let me make this a parallel circuit and see if the other lights come on.”

Sure enough, they do. We talk to the professor, who tells us to nab an unused light bulb. We replace the first bulb and continue through the experiment. However, as we proceed, each of the remaining light bulbs blows, and we continue replacing them. My professor has seemingly not noticed that we’ve blown all of our bulbs as he makes his way through the classroom. Finally, we make it through the experiment and think we’re done.

Professor: “[My Name], this is a crank battery. It transforms mechanical power into electrical power. See how hard it is to crank?”

He gives the crank to me so I can pump electricity into a series circuit. It’s fairly difficult and the lights are dimmer. Then, he turns the series into a parallel circuit, which makes the cranking much easier. The lights glow brighter… and one bulb blows. The professor stares at me. My friends, who have seen how many bulbs I’ve already blown, start to laugh. I hand the crank back to the professor.

Me: “I think it’s time for the lecture.”

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