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How the lightbulb saved the Sperm Whale

How the lightbulb saved the Sperm Whale

How Innovation can change the world.

You’ve heard of the butterfly effect, right? A butterfly flapping its wings in one part of the world can cause a tornado in another. In other words, small changes can have large and unpredictable effects.

The same is true for innovation. A small change in one area of business can have great consequences for another. 

Take the invention of the lightbulb …

Before lightbulbs were invented, Sperm Whale candles were the norm.

Their oil was highly valued because of its clear, white colour and the fact that it produced a high-quality candle which burned brightly, and with little odour. 

These candles were so popular that the production of them threatened the Sperm Whale with extinction. 

Enter the lightbulb. 

Thomas Edison is widely credited with the invention of the light bulb. But English chemist Joseph Swan invented the incandescent light bulb, the first lightbulb used to illuminate homes and public buildings, including the Savoy Theatre in London in 1881.

After a tussle over patents, they founded Edison Swan United and became the world’s largest manufacturer of lightbulbs.

Lightbulbs were now accessible, cheaper and more effective so people moved away from the candle and to the lightbulb. Demand for whale oil for candles reduced, as did the number of whales killed to provide this oil. A real win win.

You could argue that we have the innovations of Edison and Swan to thank for still having Sperm Whales.

But this was not the only positive consequence. Innovation can have far reaching benefits unintended by the inventor. It’s unlikely that either Edison or Swan had social reform in New York City on their minds.

With light now available at all hours, literacy levels improved there, the working day was extended and people could travel more safely at night. 

So, this innovation helped pass the housing act in New York City in 1901. It was only with the use of camera bulbs that light was shed on the appalling living conditions in part of the city.

So what can we learn from this?

If the light bulb hadn’t been invented when it was. We might have no whales at all now.

Innovation cant wait and should always be on the top of your agenda.

EXSE2021 launched recently, offering Essex-based businesses a chance to share their stories, learn from each other and showcase their innovative ideas, products and services to a global audience.

ExSE runs from 9am – 5pm on 11th, 12th and 13th May 2021.

Do it now …

It’s free to register and attend and you only have to dress from the waist up!

EXSE2021 Virtual Booth

For exhibitors in our virtual trade show, we’ve made it possible to benefit from the exposure and publicity that a real-world business event offers … at a fraction of the cost and inconvenience.

Discover the cost of hiring a virtual booth for 3 days. You will be amazed.

And if you’d like your business associated with the first business event of its kind in Essex, take a look at the sponsorship opportunities.

You can hear the rest of this good news story by following EXSE in social media:





Related websites:

BEST Growth Hub




novo awards 2021



innovation lounge





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