Shedding a Little “Light”

Every now and then I’m struck by just how many different jobs are out there.  Jobs that many people probably don’t think about, because the product is just always there.  Some of my previous ponderings have been over the plastic ends on shoelaces (called aglets or aiglets), the handles on coffins, and even those cup holders at Starbucks.  All of these things are necessary and we’d be lost without them, but we usually end up taking them for granted, especially if we’re not the ones who work on these items.

Some of these odd jobs might now be automated, but at some point, someone, somewhere had to actually design the products, and someone else had to make them and/or attach them to whatever product they’re a part of.

There’s a great show called How It’s Made that shows things like this.  It airs on The Science Channel (sometimes several episodes back to back), talks about anything from potato chips to caviar to snowboards and even big construction machines.  There are some things that I don’t particularly find interesting, but by and large, I LOVE this show.

Anyway, lately I’ve been pondering automobile tail lights.  It’s a weird thing to be thinking about, I know, but when I’m in traffic at night, and they’re sitting there in front of me, it’s hard not to see the unique designs they’re coming up with now and wonder “Who thought of that design and why?”

I know that interesting car features have been a big thing for years.  Back in the 50s many cars had fins, others a porthole in the rear window, but I’d never really noticed the tail lights to see if they, too, were unique among automotive companies.

So come with me and take a look at the (oftentimes) interesting world of car tail lights . . .

First we’ll start off with the more “regular” looking tail lights.  These have been on 90% of the cars out there for several decades now.  There might be a few tweaks here and there, but mostly they’ve been sturdy, functional, and somewhat boring:


Next, we’ve got a few cooler-looking ones.  These car manufacturer’s apparently decided to blend the tail lights into the new, sleeker lines of the car.  To make them a part of the car’s design, rather than an afterthought:


And then there are the REALLY cool, trippy kinds of tail lights that mesmerize you a little bit:


In fact, it’s the eyeball-looking lights (above) that caused me to want to write this blog.  Those things are so cool, but still freak me out a little bit . . . like the car is looking at me sideways (which I’m sure is what the manufacturers were going for).

Paying attention to the tail lights (while I’ve been working on this blog) has helped to curb my road rage a bit, because I can focus on the different designs in front of me, rather than the slow person in front of me.  But it’s not so distracting that my attention is diverted from what’s happening on the road.

How about you?  Have you ever wondered how they made that, or who came up with that idea?  If so, I’d love to hear about it.

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