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Speaking of Crystals, Check out the Specs on Times Square’s New Year’s Eve Ball

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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Ball Dropping tomorrow in Times Square said to have more lights this year yet is more energy efficient

At the beginning of this week, my article on the science of Snow Crystals was published here on the Guest Blog. If you haven’t read it yet, you can check it out here. This weekend millions of eyes will be focused on another type of crystal.

In honor of New Year’s Eve, let’s switch gears from checking out crystals made by nature (snowflakes) and focus our attention on the spectacular Waterford crystals and lights adorning the Ball that will be dropping to mark the end of 2011 in NYC.

The tradition of the Ball dropping in New York’s Times Square dates back to 1907. The first ball used was made of iron and wood and had only 120 25W light bulbs on it, but check out…

…THE SPECS on this year’s ball:

BIG: The Geodesic sphere is 12 feet in diameter and weighs in at 11, 875 pounds. That is about “the length of an average SUV” and “the weight of four compact cars,” according Lighting Science Group Design Works who did the ball’s most recent makeover in 2008.

BRIGHT: 2,688 Waterford crystal triangles of various sizes, some with intricately carved facets, shapes and motifs with different themes like joy, love and friendship.

MORE COLORFUL THAN EVER: This year’s ball has 32,256 Philips Luxeon LEDs (three times more than last year). Philips Lighting says that its red, green, white and blue LED modules help to create a color palette of over 16 million colors and billions of color patterns.

MORE ENERGY EFFICIENT than last year: According to the Times Square Alliance’s website this year’s ball is “10-20% more energy efficient than last year’s already energy-efficient Ball, consuming only the same amount of energy per hour as it would take to operate two traditional home ovens.”

So since it has been sort of a mild winter and we haven’t had a chance to see snow crystals drop from the New York City sky yet, we will at least be able to see that exquisitely luminous ball of white and colored crystals drop this Saturday night. And now you know some of the specs and science behind it. The science hidden in plain sight. Happy New Years, everyone!

Sources: Times Square Alliance and Lighting Science.

Photo Credit: (Energy Efficient in 2012) stock photo by Raja R/raja4u on stock xchng, Author pic by Erica Angiolillo

Cheryl Murphy About the Author: Cheryl G. Murphy is an optometrist and freelance science writer living and working in New York State. She began writing about vision science on her blog,Science Hidden in Plain Sight, in 2008. Links to her previous contributions to Scientific American’s guest blog can be found here. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter. Follow on Twitter @murphyod.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.






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