Brandon Shen-Xu. 02/12/2021
My favorite scientist and role model is Thomas Alva Edison. He was born on February 11, 1847, in Milan, Ohio, U.S.A. Since he was young, Edison was very curious in school. He kept asking the same question, “Why? ” The teachers could not answer his questions most of the time, and they got so annoyed that eventually Edison was kicked out. Despite that, his mother never gave up on him and she homeschooled him. When he grew up, Edison went on to create more than 1,000 inventions; each of his inventions came to impact our life today. Edison’s most famous inventions are the incandescent light bulb, the moving picture camera, and the phonograph.
Edison is my role model because he never gave up, even when times were hard. He never stopped working to achieve what he wanted to. He was always an optimist. When he was trying to find the right material for the incandescent light bulb, he said, “I haven’t failed; I just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Regular people would have given up long before they attempted 10,000 times! Edison was also very patient with what he did. He worked very hard. He kept working even during the night, even when he was tired. And most importantly, he kept working even if he sometimes wanted to give up. He thought about it; he planned about it; he studied about it; he was patient and optimistic about it.
Edison’s hard work finally paid off. He was one of the most productive inventors in history. Now, his inventions affect our daily lives. The most impactful one is the incandescent light bulb. Can you imagine life without light bulbs? It might not seem that big of a deal now, because we tend to take so many wonderful inventions for granted. But it is a big deal! Without light bulbs, we would need to live by candle light or oil lamps, and our disposable time would be much shorter. Imagine on a cold winter day without light bulbs, between 5:00 pm and 7:00 am, it is all pitch dark, and we have to do a lot of things (take a shower, get dressed, shave, brush teeth, make breakfast, etc.) like a blind person. What a mess we would make! Light bulbs used to only stay alight for only 3 to 5 minutes at a time. But Edison made them last for months. It was Edison who made the first commercially viable light bulb.
In his search for the right material, Edison tried many ideas for the incandescent lightbulb. He was able to produce more than 13 hours of light with the cotton thread filament. Later, he found that the best filament material was carbonized bamboo. It could produce over 1,200 hours of non-stopping light. This was the beginning of the lightbulbs in your home now. Every time you turn on the lightbulbs at your home, you should think of and appreciate the hard work Edison put into that fabulous invention.
Light bulbs allow people to work during the night through long periods of time. My sister, a high-schooler, always works in the night. Without them, she would never be able to stay on top of her school work. Light bulbs allowed people to have more disposable work hours. Light bulbs also made industrialization possible. Otherwise, factories cannot run 24/7. They are also essential components of so many other machines, such as cars, fridges, surgery equipment, and you name it.
Edison’s second important invention is the moving picture camera. Edison wanted to invent this gadget because he wanted to capture moments of life, especially hilarious ones, and see them played out again and again. It was the precursor to the projectors you see in every classroom these days. Can you picture classrooms without a projector and the teachers having to write and draw everything on the whiteboard? It would take a long time and you might not even be able to see the image clearly.
The moving picture camera allowed us to watch movies. This impacts our lives because it allows us to experience nearly every single emotion and moment of others without really experiencing it in person. It allows us to understand how it feels to be someone else. Movies teach us how to appreciate what we have and understand why there are rules, why these rules are important, and why it is important to follow them. Without the moving picture camera, none of this would be possible.
Now onto Edison’s next important invention. You are sitting in the front seat of the car and you are getting bored. You click on the radio button and start listening to beautiful music. Who made that possible? Edison created the phonograph, which basically acts as a radio. Without it, we would never have the radio today. This may seem like a simple change in life if you don’t have a radio. But it is not. Radios can be used for other purposes. Like tele-communications and much more. During World War II, radios were the most reliable way of fast communication over long distances. Radios are still widely used everywhere today in our modern life.
Edison made many inventions but his favorite was the phonograph. It allows people to listen to music anywhere, anytime, and any type of music or specific song. Phonographs allowed us to analyze lyrics more carefully and sing them ourselves. This is important because music helps define our mood. Music can be a powerful thing. It can change how we act and feel. The phonograph is what makes this possible.
It is not practical to list and go into detail for every invention by Edison, for he had more than 1,000 patents and inventions! Edison will always be remembered for his great accomplishments. Without him and his fantastic inventions, our daily life would be totally different and worse. His spirit of hard work, never giving up and curiosity have inspired generations upon generations of scientists and engineers. We need to follow in the footsteps of the great inventor and persevere even through the hardest of times. I am very curious just like him. I am also hard working. However, I need to be more patient, trust and believe in myself. And most importantly, I need to never give up. After all, he once said, “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up.”