Reply to post: Nobel Committee may have wider views in mind...

White LED lies: It's great, but Nobel physics prize-winning great?

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

Nobel Committee may have wider views in mind...

This was the Physics Prize, not the economics one, so the narrow understanding suggested by the article may not be the entire picture.

Also, take the context. In the 80s and 90s, companies like BP were producing vast amounts of simple 70w solar panels, which along with a lead acid battery, and a fluorescent light tube with built in inverter, were installed throughout Southern Africa in rural areas. Areas like these previously either did without light, or use paraffin lamps. Paraffin for cooking and lighting often spelt disaster. Flourescent lamps were better than nothing, but they buzz, are prone to failure, and the cost of the entire shebang is quite high, even discounting the PR for which undoubtedly the exercise was done.

Now take the potential of LEDs for enabling sight during the hours of darkness You can go to a tat store in the west and buy half a dozen "garden lights" for a fiver. These are mere trinkets to us, but in the rural third world are transformative, providing safety in flammable dwellings and general night-time safety too. A few offcuts of solar panel material, a few NiMH AA batteries, a few LEDs with diffusers are now all that's required, at hugely reduced cost, no high voltages to cause danger, no buzzing or flickering to cause headaches, no lead acid to cause more danger and much longer lasting.

Yes,I would say the prize is very well deserved, but maybe not so much from a narrow, western economic viewpoint.

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