Bill Wattenburg’s Open Line to the West-Coast

Saturday, September 14, 1996

One of the first callers brought up the dolphin death bill, asking Bill some questions about its origin and intent. Bill reported that the negotiations that resulted in the bill were held down in Mexico, in our consulate, in secret, with most of the well-known environmental organizations in attendance.

New Gas Eats Fuel Lines

Marge in San Francisco asked Bill what the prognosis was for her ’84 Volvo. Bill reported that evidence shows MTBE is a solvent that dissolves rubber and Nitril fuel hoses and gaskets (used in most cars up until ’91 or ’92).

He also reported that there has been a class-action suit filed in San Jose asking for damages based on the MTBE and reformulated gasoline.


Charlie in Loma Linda spoke about the letter addressed to Marty Keller (signed by 40 of the Assemblypersons) requesting that SMOG II be put on hold. He thinks that while some of the members may be well-meaning, to others it may simply be a stalling tactic to avoid the problem until after the election.

What Makes an LED Light Up?

Jim in Hayward asked this question, and Bill replied that it is difficult to explain without understanding solid-state physics.

He explained that inside a Light Emitting Diode, when electrons move across a junction (the place where two different semi-conductors meet) inside the diode, they give up photons, thus producing light.

Does anyone have any pointers to sites on the web that more completely explains this behavior? If so, mail me.

3-Way Light bulbs

Rolly in Windsor had an answer for a previous caller regarding 3-way bulbs. The question was if any of the three filaments would last longer than the others. For instance, would the leaving the light on the 50-watt filament most of the time cause it to last longer than leaving it at the 100 or 150-watt position most of the time? Bill hypothesized that that might be the case, but was not positive, because of the differing construction of the filaments.

Rolly stated that there are actually only two filaments in a 3-way bulb, and that the 3 different wattage levels were obtained by using just one filament at a time, or both. So that a 3-way bulb which had a maximum rating of 150 watts would have one 50-watt filament, and one 100-watt filament. Depending on how much one filament vibrates when it breaks, it could take the other filament with it, or could leave it alone, leaving the bulb with two off positions and two on positions (which would now be the same light level).

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