Friday, December 30, 2011

Dropping the (Times Square) Ball - CNN

Every year someone literally gets to push the button that drops the Times Square Ball that rings in 2012. Individuals in the past have been Colin Powell, Mohammed Ali, and Bill and Hillary Clinton. But, this year it’s a different choice – according to the New York Post it’s…Lady Gaga.  She will join Mayor Bloomberg to kick off 2012. But, on a separate note, as you watch the ball drop, you might want to note the technology going on behind the scenes and literally on it.

Here are some deets as discussed on CNN today   and video below.

The ball drop has occurred over the last 104 years and it wasn’t always so hi-tech.

The first ball was made of iron and wood, weighed 700 pounds, and was covered with 100 light bulbs. Those numbers now, are kind of pathetic!

Let me give you the specs on this year’s ball as an estimated 1 billion people look on:

· The ball features 32,256 Philips LEDS; 8,064 in each of four colors (red, blue, green, white)
· Ball can be digitally controlled showcasing 16 million colors and billions of patterns
· The 2012 ball is made of aluminum - 12 feet in diameter and weighs 11,875 lbs
· 2,688 Waterford Crystal triangles create the iconic shape of the Ball
· Each year, the Waterford Crystal triangles that adorn the Ball are updated to a new theme. This year’s it’s theme is “Let There Be Friendship.”

All About LED.
In 2007, they completely converted the bulbs over from halogen to LED. I spoke with Silvie Cassanova, a spokesperson for Phillips and she noted that just by switching over, the ball itself has become 88% more energy efficient. Each LED bulb lasts 30x more than the halogen bulbs. The ball itself burns only as much energy per hour as two home ovens. Understand with those numbers noted, these are the same LEDs that you can purchase in the store, and I think that’s a big consumer takeaway. The Times Square Ball is awesome (and great for making out under when it drops)… it’s a heads up example for the consumer; you can spend $50 on a light bulb and replace it in 6 months or you can spend $15 on an LED bulb that will last20-25 years and will save you $142 in energy cost. AND just like the ball, you can save 88% energy consumption.

Ball and Special Effects
The ball is a permanent fixture in Times Square so it’s utilized beyond New Years Eve. It’s often used for tours and other events like Valentines Day and Earth Day. And, since it can be digitally controlled, it can portray billions of patterns and also video. On Valentines Day they put a heart video on it and on Earth Day an Earth is showcased.

Who knew?!
Six electricians handle the actual ball drop (they wind the cable that raises and lowers the ball) - since its run on hydraulic, there is a certain amount of electricity used to make it happen.

(Click to enlarge infographic: Courtesy of Philips)

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