Tungsten

Lightbulbs are constructed for maximum efficiency such that a tiny piece of tungsten with minimal weight is held largely removed from the rest of the environment. The fillament has a higher resistance than the supports, and as such, converts electrical energy to heat, and, in turn, to light. Basic explorations, as shown in the first part of the [cEE101] tutorial series, "Glow," clearly demonstrate that the lightbulb behaves differently depending upon the manner the electrical energy is applied. As mentioned in Glow, this is due to tungsten's thermal resistance.

As with most metals, Tungsten has a "positive temperature coefficient" or PTC. This means that as tungsten heats up, the resistance increases. In a lightbulb, where the temperature increases from room temperature to thousands of degrees, the resistance can vary dramatically. After observing this effect very clearly, I decided to launch an exploration into heat flow and to attempt to determine exactly how hot the filament got.

In concert with this line of inquiry, I was working on polishing the Python implementation of the CEE API. As such, I elected to conduct my explorations predominantly using this API and the numpy / pylab numerical computing toolkit.`