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Graded reading for ESL


A Brilliant Invention

The Moser lamp
The Moser lamp
Pic: Flickr
The Moser lamp
The Moser lamp
Pic: Flickr
The American inventor Thomas Edison is famous for inventing the light bulb. In 1879, he produced a bulb that could light up for 1500 hours. It changed the world and made Edison rich and famous.

But the man who invented a light bulb that uses no electricity is neither rich nor famous. But his literally brilliant invention is changing the lives of millions.

The Moser Lamp was the idea of a Brazilian engineer called Alfredo Moser. And it is now bringing light to homes and small businesses in poorer countries around the world.

What is the Moser Light and how does it work?

Alfred Moser's lamp consists of a plastic bottle filled with water and a small amount of bleach. This is fixed into a round hole in the roof of a building so that the top part sticks out and is exposed to the sun and the bottom part hangs down into the room.

When the sun shines, the sun's rays fall on the top part of the bottle and make the water glow so the bottom of the bottle shines brightly like an electric bulb.
It sounds unbelievable, but the Moser lamp can produce a light that is as bright as a 60-watt electric bulb; strong enough to light a room.

Of course there is one obvious drawback: it doesn't work in the dark. But for millions of poor people, having a free light source is a huge benefit. Homes in crowded slum areas often have small windows or none at all. And in poor countries electricity is very expensive; many can't afford it.

How did he get the idea?

The idea of using the sun's power came up during a power cut. Power cuts were frequent in the city of Uberaba where Moser lives. One day Moser and his friends were talking about how to survive without electricity.

But they didn't talk about light bulbs. Instead, they wondered what would happen in an emergency if you had no electric power. Suppose you were in a plane and it crashed in the jungle. How could you raise the alarm?

One of them suggested using a lens to focus the sun's rays and start a fire. If you didn't have a lens, you could find an old plastic bottle and fill it with water. This would act as a lens.

This idea stuck in Moser's head and he started playing with bottles of water and making circles of light. Almost by accident, he developed the lamp.

Bringing light to millions

The idea soon spread around the world and the lamp is now used in around 15 other countries from India and Bangladesh, to Tanzania, Argentina and Fiji. Huge numbers of people are benefitting from Alfredo Moser's invention.

You might think Moser would be a millionaire by now. But he isn't. He still lives in a simple house and drives a car that is 40 years old. But he is rightly proud of his invention.

'It's a divine light. God gave the sun to everyone, and light is for everyone. Whoever wants it saves money.' he told the BBC.

'There was one man who installed the lights and within a month he had saved enough to pay for the essential things for his child, who was about to be born. Can you imagine?'

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1  Comprehension - A Brilliant Invention