Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Got the blues

This year the Nobel prize for physics was awarded to Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano, and Shuji Nakamura for their invention of the blue light emitting diode.
This paved the way for a whole new generation of energy-saving lamps that we now see in our everyday lives; domestic lighting, TVs, car headlamps, and even the humble flashlight has benefited from their work.
Unfortunately, it's still the same old story of inventions made for good but also used for evil. In the same way that nuclear fission provided a way to generate massive amounts of energy to fuel our increasing demand for electricity but also led to the most horrific and devastating weapons in history, the blue LED which was intended to make our lives better has also proved to have a more sinister side. Allow me to explain.

Take a look around any electrical retail store and you'll see the problem immediately. The blue LED has found its way into anything and everything that consumes electricity.
My microwave has a blue display that sears your retinas when you're trying to set the time, the numbers on my blu-ray player are distracting, and my toaster lights up my face blue whenever I fancy Marmite on toast.
Nearly every PC and monitor at work now has power buttons and even fans illuminated with the damn things, and if you've tried to buy a new car stereo in the last few years you'll have been confronted by a literally dazzling array of what appear to be blue disco lights.

As soon as the blue LED arrived on the consumer market it became 'cool', so it was inevitable that the world's tat merchants would fall to their knees in reverence for this new-found tool for flogging their unnecessary shite to an unsuspecting public.
Remember when the roads were suddenly full of youths with blue LED windscreen washers on their cars? These were just the start, but at least you knew if the person behind you at night was a nob-head.
There's no part of car culture that hasn't been abused with the blue LED, and I still don't understand why. When all we had was red or green LEDs we didn't see all the crap that we have with the blue ones. With the exception of the Aston Martin Lagonda and KITT from Knight Rider I'm struggling to think of any car that put non-blue LEDs to great use. Certainly not in the way that the Barry-Boys do with the blue ones.

There will be no escaping this phenomenon shortly as the shops go for the big pre-xmas push, filling the aisles with all kinds of tasteless crap of which at least 80 percent will be illuminated by blue LEDs. Now as I've said many times, I hate Christmas, but even I can't help but think blue lights are about as unfestive as it's possible to get. Blue light is cold and clinical and does nothing to give a sense seasonal warmth and togetherness that so many consider to only be important for a couple of weeks of the year, so why do they do it? If it's not bad enough to produce a two foot shiny silver xmas tree that sings and dances when you walk past it, they go and cover it in flashing blue LEDs. Talk about the final nail in the coffin......