Neon Lights

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Neon lighting consists of brightly glowing, electrified glass tubes or bulbs that contain rarefied neon or other gases. Neon lights are a type of cold cathode gas-discharge light. A neon tube light is a sealed glass tube with a metal electrode at each end, filled with one of a number of gases at low pressure. A high potential of several thousand volts applied to the electrodes ionizes the gas in the tube, causing it to emit colored light by fluorescence. The color of the light depends on the gas in the tube. Neon lights were named for neon, a noble gas which gives off a popular red light, but other gases and chemicals are used to produce other colors, such as helium (yellow), carbon dioxide (white), and mercury (blue). Neon tubes can be fabricated in curving artistic shapes, to form letters or pictures. They are mainly used to make dramatic, multicolored glowing signage for advertising, called neon signs, which were popular from the 1920s to the 1950s. The term can also refer to the miniature neon glow lamp, developed in 1917, about seven years after neon tube lighting. While neon tube lights are typically meters long, the neon lamps can be less than one centimeter in length and glow much more dimly than the tube lights. Through the 1970s, neon glow lamps were widely used for displays in electronics, for small decorative lamps, and as electronic devices in themselves. While these lamps are now antiques, the technology of the neon glow lamp developed into contemporary plasma displays and televisions. Several museums in the United States are now devoted to neon lighting and art, including the Museum of Neon Art (founded by neon artist Lili Lakich, Los Angeles, 1981), the Neon Museum (Las Vegas, founded 1996), the American Sign Museum (Cincinnati, founded 1999), and the Neon Museum of Philadelphia (founded by Len Davidson, Philadelphia, 1985). These museums restore and display historical signage that was originally designed as advertising, in addition to presenting exhibits of neon art. Several books of photographs have also been published to draw attention to neon lighting as art. In 1994, Christian Schiess has published an anthology of photographs and interviews devoted to fifteen "light artists". [READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE]







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