Solar-powered lamp and charger

Contributed by British Museum

Click on the image to zoom in. Photograph copyright Trustees of the British Museum

There are around five billion mobile phones in use around the world todayThis lamp is powered by the small solar panel connected to it. As well as providing light, power from this panel can be used to charge mobile phones. This object has been chosen to reflect our ingenuity, and the challenges we face, in the twenty-first century. The kit uses a range of new materials and technologies, including silicon-chip technology, which can also be found in computers and mobile phones. Here it is used in the solar photovoltaic cell, which converts sunlight into electricity. Exposing this cell to eight hours of bright sunshine provides up to 100 hours of lamp light.

How is this technology changing lives?

There are currently 1.6 billion people across the world without access to an electrical grid. In these areas, objects such as this allow people to study, work and socialise outside daylight hours, vastly improving the quality of many lives. Additionally, households using solar energy rather than kerosene lamps are able to avoid the risk of fire and the damage to health that kerosene can cause. Once purchased, this kit costs very little to run, making it a very efficient option for many people living in the world's poorest countries.

Comments are closed for this object


  • 1. At 10:06 on 21 September 2010, strokecitydave wrote:

    My wife thinks the 100th object will be a Cadbury's Flake, as the theme music from the series is so similar to the music used in the flake ads!

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  • 2. At 09:44 on 24 September 2010, hamster wrote:

    How can we decide on the complete list of one hundred objects? I think that the last object should remain a mystery, or there may be a hundred and one, a hundred and two, three, four?.etc.¬¬ I think it would be better to leave the last object as a question mark, then we could place our own object either from a list of our own objects: or perhaps because human history is being constantly re-written then we have a space in which to place a object that best describes the historical moment; A history of the world in a list that can never be really completed.

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  • 3. At 16:32 on 24 September 2010, Patricia wrote:

    I have a beutiful water colour painting of a De Havilland Mosquito Bomber.
    The artist is Richard Wilson. He painted it for my late husband Keith Vernon Panter DSO. Keith was reorted missing believed killed in 1945. Peter was asked what was he going to do with the picture? 'I am going to give it to Keith whae he comes back', he replied. And he did. Keith's Mosquito had been hit. He was going down. His navigator had been shot, so he took him out in his arms. Because only one 'chute' was observed comimng from the plane, and the navigator was alas, dead, everyone presumed Keith must also be dead. But he went on to do air sea rescue after the war, and then teach flying in Saudi Arabia

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  • 4. At 10:53 on 5 October 2010, R-D wrote:

    Sadly the one item that represents the 21st Century so far would be the silicone chip. Without it those other two icons, the mobile phone or the laptop, won't exist.

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  • 5. At 09:23 on 6 October 2010, Tom Barth wrote:

    The 100th object should definitely be a Czech Torah Scroll. During WW2 the Nazis collected all the Torah Scrolls from synagogues in Czechoslovakia with the intention of setting up a Museum after the War to an extinct race. They then murdered virtually all the Jews in Czechoslovakia. The scrolls were stored in a warehouse in Prague where they languished until 1964 when they - approx 1500 of them - were brought to London, restored and distributed around the world for future generations to use. Each scroll tells a story. We have one from a small town called Klatovy in our congregation in Surrey. My family came from Klatovy and my son read from the scroll at his Bar MItzvah and could well be the 6th generation of our family to have read from that scroll. It is a symbol of life continuing through evil.

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  • 6. At 10:30 on 7 October 2010, Philip Crawford wrote:

    In the final analysis the 100th object has to be the microchip. This has had more effect on a huge raft of the world population than any other other object. Please not the iPhone! If it has to be a mobile phone, at least choose the first of the pocket versions, the Motorola StarTAC.

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  • 7. At 02:04 on 8 October 2010, kanbantus wrote:

    I think it should be a plastic bag. So widely used, so much waste, such an annoying environmental problem...

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  • 8. At 09:51 on 8 October 2010, Simon wrote:

    The cap on the oil spill in the gulf of mexico. Sad to say that man's most valuable science in the 21st century has been to invent a 'plug' designed to avert a natural disaster we'd caused by our greed and wrecklessness.

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  • 9. At 18:24 on 8 October 2010, Sam The Eagle wrote:

    I think that the 100th object should be a shipping container. These huge metal boxes are fundimental to 21stC trade travelling thousands of miles every year on the back of lorries, trains and container shipping. They transport many forms of goods, and are fundimental to the modern, global form of business (legitimate and illigitimate). They carry products ranging from cars to cash and engineering parts to people. They are also used as storage or offices, even homes.

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  • 10. At 13:58 on 9 October 2010, Zorba Eisenhower wrote:

    The final object has to be an electricity generator as without electricity there would be no tv, radio, internet etc. Electricity is the bedrock of today's society and without it we would have had none of the history of the last 100 years and therefore a generator has to be the 100th object.

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