From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
An electric light is a device that produces light by the flow of electric current. It is the most common form of artificial lighting and is essential to modern society, providing interior lighting for buildings and exterior light for evening and nighttime activities. Most electric lighting is powered by centrally generated electric power, but lighting may also be powered by mobile or standby electric generators or battery systems. Battery-powered lights, usually called "flashlights" or "torches", are used for portability and as backups when the main lights fail. The two main families of electric light are incandescent lamps, which produce light by a filament heated white-hot by electric current, and gas-discharge lamps, which produce light by an electric arc through a gas. The energy efficiency of electric lighting has increased radically since the first demonstration of arc lamps and the incandescent light bulb of the 19th century. Modern electric light sources come in a profusion of types and sizes adapted to a myriad of applications.