Weird Wood: Blood sacrifice sheds light on energy conservation

Lauraann Wood

Daily Egyptian


There’s nothing like a good finger cut to help us remember exactly how wasteful and disposable our society is.

At least, that was U.S. designer Mike Thompson’s thought process when he decided to create a lamp that will only work once you drop a little blood into it. According to his website, Thompson created this Dracula bulb so one would stop and actually think about where energy comes from and its cost to the environment.

The process begins by breaking off the bulb’s narrow neck to expose a few sharp edges. The next step is to dissolve a tablet of Luminol in the bulb’s chemical solution, and then its time to sit and stare at the sharp glass to determine if intentionally sliding an innocent finger over it is worth the one-time light spectacle it would create.

If it is, slice a finger on the bulb, let a few drops of blood fall into the chemicals and watch the two interact to emit a blue light.

Luminol, the lamp’s active ingredient, is a chemical that yields a short-term glow when used by forensic investigators to detect blood traces at crime scenes. The Luminol gets dissolved in the bulb’s chemical solution before mixing the willing human blood sacrifice, and it interacts with its iron content to transmit the light.

As psychotic as it sounds, the invention is actually quite the statement to energy conservation. Thompson’s website claims the average American uses about 3,383 kilowatts of energy per year, which would be the same as leaving a light on in four rooms for 12 months. The wasted energy comes from the convenience of always having a light switch within reach.

With this in mind, the idea behind the blood lamp is that people would actually think twice about energy and where it comes from if it took a personal sacrifice to harness it. The underlying metaphor is that using too much energy will kill our environment in the same fashion that losing too much blood would kill a human.

To use the lamp would force consumers to determine when they would need energy the most and wait until then to use it. It would make them reconsider how often a light is left on. It would convince them to never waste energy again.

Or it would just really hurt, and then you would be stuck walking around with a scar on your finger because of that one time you thought it would be cool to cut yourself and watch your blood power a lamp for a couple of minutes.

With its small structure and potentially short light life, it’s questionable whether Thompson thought about the fact that his lamp would work as a nightlight at best.

Don’t get me wrong. The blood lamp is a nifty idea to get a message across. But if I’m expected to strain my eyes while I walk around my house for the sake of a saved kilowatt or two, then I would rather take the few extra steps to flip on a switch and finish my day with ease.

Surely someone would try this at least once, but it would be slightly demented to have enough Dracula bulbs scattered throughout the house to be able to completely substitute light switches and electric sockets.

Maybe it would work if the finger was sliced and bled enough to light every lamp, but that’s cheating and cheaters never win.

Lauraann Wood can be reached at lawood@dailyegyptian.com or 536-3311 ext. 252.

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