A law passed by congress in 2007 effectively outlawed the continued use of incandescent bulbs-those warm, flattering moodlighters that, like many things from our childhood, also happen to be terribly inefficient and generally wasteful. The law stipulated that by 2012, all light bulbs sold in the United states would have to meet strict efficiency standards-standards no current incandescent bulbs could meet. Tears were shed for the romantic technology that ushered in the modern world, that lit the trellises at Luna Park, that embodied the very concept of inspiration.But wait! Like a phoenix from the ashes, the incandescent bulb rises again! Researchers have been toiling away in their basement (GE has basements, right?) laboratories developing new incandescent bulb technologies that eek out better performance from Thomas Edison's old standby. There is already at least one (expensive) bulb on the market that meets the 2012 standard, and more are in the works. Bulb industry insiders are applauding the strides, one noting, "There have been more incandescent innovations in the last three years than in the last two decades." Bully for government mandate kicking innovation into high gear. (Read the full New York Times story here.)The other side of this coin: How much money has been invested in this pursuit? I like an incandescent bulb as much as (nay, more than) the next guy, but I have a hard time believing this is the best use of many presumably bright minds-pun intended-and research dollars. It's the more-fuel-efficient-SUV breed of problem solving.