Well, what do you know? A light bulb really DOES flash over your head when you get a bright idea.
The bad news is that science has proven that bright ideas are harmful to the environment. So please, if you want to save the Earth, stop thinking so hard.
Higher thinking should only be attempted by the really qualified - cartoonists. After all, they pegged the whole light-bulb-flashing-over-the-head thing more than 100 yeas before scientists did.
The light bulb study was conducted by Tufts University researchers after Michael Slepian, a social psychologist there, mused upon the concept that being hit with a brilliant idea is a lot like a light snapping on in a dark room, according to a report published by LiveScience.
Slepian put the theory to the test. First, he discovered an overhead light actually stimulates thought. Second, his researchers found that the light that turns on the brain the best is the standard, stuff-of-cartoons, incandescent light bulb.
For the last couple years, environmentalists touted the insight that it is a good idea to swap out our old-fashioned incandescent light bulbs for those swirly-looking compact fluorescent bulbs.
According to Energy Star, a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy, ''If every American home replaced just one light with an Energy Star light, we would save enough energy to light more than 3 million homes for a year, about $700 million in annual energy costs, and prevent 9 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions per year, equivalent to the emissions of about 800,000 cars.''
Here's the irony: While our carbon footprints would be lighter, our ideas would be duller.
I could be wrong, I suppose. The above theory struck me inside an office illuminated by fluorescent lights.
In the Tufts study, college students were placed in rooms that either were bare, had an unshaded incandescent 25-watt light bulb or an overhead fluorescent light. Then various language, math and spatial problems were flashed on a screen.
Light proved to be better than no light. And the volunteers working under incandescent bulbs solved all problems faster or more often than those working under fluorescent lights.
Slepian told LiveScience, ''We find something as subtle as an illuminating light bulb in our environment can facilitate insight, and thus lead to more creative solutions to problems.''
I think he's missing another obvious conclusion: Cartoonists are our most advanced thinkers.
Think about it. Be careful not to be blinded by that bulb popping on over your head as you do. Cartoonists came up with the idea of light bulbs signaling brilliant ideas almost as soon as Thomas Edison patented the carbon filament bulb on Jan. 27, 1880.
All those years that Mom tried to get me to put down my comic books and pick up my school books were wasted. If only our scientists would read more comic books, they probably could do anything, even find the cure for the common phone solicitor.
But read comics by incandescent light, of course. It's for true inspiration.
---- All the bulbs over Cole's head seem to be 25 watts or less. Enlighten him at firstname.lastname@example.org.