There are several different types of fluorescent lighting, but what are known as linear fluorescent tubes, the kind that are commonly used in overhead fixtures, are probably most familiar to us.
Fluorescent lighting is the result of a chemical reaction inside of a glass tube. Fluorescent lights have a ballast. Its main purpose is to take the alternating current and turn it into a steady and direct stream of electricity. This stabilizes and maintains the chemical reaction that is occurring inside the bulb.
From the ballast electricity flows to the electrodes inside the glass tube, which is kept under low pressure. Inside of the tube are inert gasses and mercury which are excited by the electrical current. The mercury vaporizes and the gasses begin reacting with each other to produce an invisible UV light that we actually cannot see with our naked eye.
The tube is coated with phosphor powder coating that glows when it is excited by the invisible UV light producing a visible white light. Environmentalists emphasize that because of the mercury it is important to recycle fluorescent bulbs after they’ve burned out.
If you look at a large room that's lit mostly by fluorescent lights there's a good chance that you'll see all kinds of different colors coming from them. That's because of something called color shifting.
The longer the bulbs burn the more likely it is that the chemical properties change and cause an imbalanced reaction. As a result the lights are less white and not as bright. In order for the fluorescents to reach their full brightness it may take anywhere between 10-30 seconds for warm up.
Fluorescent lighting has been around over 100 years, but it doesn't work well everywhere and relying on solely on fluorescent lighting can produce negative ergonomic and health effects.
Aside from the EPA and environmental concerns about broken fluorescent bulbs and their disposal, frequent switching on and off results in early failure.
Light that comes from them is omni-directional...it scatters light in every direction which is grossly inefficient because only about 60-70 percent of the light given off is being used and the rest is wasted.
Prior to 1978 magnetic ballasts were required to operate fluorescent lights and they could produce a humming or buzzing noise. The problem was eliminated with the introduction of high-frequency, electronic ballasts.
Ultraviolet light can also affect artwork like watercolors and textiles. Artwork must be protected by the use of additional glass or transparent acrylic sheets placed between the source of light and the painting.
More importantly, in a 1993 study researchers found that ultraviolet light exposure from sitting under fluorescent lights for eight hours is equivalent to one minute of sun exposure.
Health problems relating to light sensitivity may become aggravated in sensitive individuals. Researchers have suggested that the UV radiation emitted by this type of lighting had led to an increase in eye diseases, most notably cataracts.
Other medical professionals have theorized that retinal damage, myopia or astigmatism can also be attributed side effects of fluorescent light. And it's not easy on the eyes! If you have bloodshot or dry eyes it could be because fluorescent tubes n an office space can cause people to subconsciously squint due to the harsh light. The best designs in those spaces soften the light that reaches the ground.
players notorious for demanding the light in the tournament room meet their personal specifications were Walter Browne and Bobby Fischer. Browne even went so far as to withdraw from the 1978 U.S. Championship in a dispute over the lighting.
The 1978 championship would have been Browne's biggest test in the U.S. Championship because virtually all the top players were participating and there was some doubt that he'd be able to win it.
The tournament was held on the Southern California campus of the Worldwide Church of God where Bobby Fischer was holed up and several of the players were granted brief audiences with him.
At the initial meeting of players Browne made what was by then his familiar complaint about the lighting, claiming it was inadequate and that it could seriously undermine his chances. Most of the players either humored him or ignored him.
The tournament director was Isaac Kashdan who had run ins with Browne in the past and when Browne bellyached about the lighting Kashdan arranged to have the college's lighting technician meet with Browne to work things out to Browne's satisfaction.
A few hours before Round 1, Browne chanced to run into Kashdan and told him the lighting was good enough, but with the proviso that he be allowed to sit at a particular table for the entire event. The players' seating assignments was rotated, but Kashdan agreed.
Shortly after that and before the first round started Kashdan was inspecting the tournament room and noticed one of the tables out of line so moved it back. When Browne entered the playing area late and noticed "his" table had been moved from under the spot he thought offered ideal lighting conditions he approached Kashdan who was unaware that it had been Browne himself who had moved the table out of line.
After a brief conversation with Kashdan, a belligerent Browne, who accused Kashdan of hating him, stormed out which resulted in him being forfeited against Larry Christiansen.
Isaac Kashdan was, unfortunately, involved in another dispute over lighting. This time with Bobby Fischer during the 1971 Candidates Semifinal match played in Denver, Colorado.
In a Sports Illustrated article that never got published Kashdan explained how the lights were a problem based on Fischer's demands. It seems Fischer had made a special study of the subject and his specifications called for twenty fluorescent fixtures, each with four daylight tubes, to be twenty feet above the playing surface.
The committee in charge of such things made sure his specifications were met, but when Fischer arrived he complained that the lights were...too bright! The electricians explained that fluorescent lights are brighter than rated when newly installed and so Fischer asked for changes which ended up having to be made on a daily basis! Add four blue lights, lower the fixtures three feet, try yellow lights, try soft white lights, etc. Somehow, in spite of Fischer's demands, the match reached a conclusion with Fischer winning 6-0.
The World Chess Hall of Fame has a fascinating page on Fischer and you can listen to interviews in which Browne, Helgi Olafsson, Viktors Pupols, Larry Remlinger, Aben Ruby, Dr. Anthony Saidy, Yasser Seirawan, James T. Sherwin and Walter Shipman reminisce about Fischer. VISIT SITE