The Light Revolution
Health, Architecture, and the Sun
by Dr. Richard Hobday
In times past, we instinctively understood that our lives depended on the glowing warmth of the sun. Without space heaters and microfleece, every winter was a stark reminder that the sun’s warmth can be all too fleeting on a winter’s day. And in the spring, great rites and festivals celebrated the coming of longer, more fertile days.
Somehow, however, the sun’s importance in modern architecture has diminished over the course of the twentieth century, often even as firms attempt to “green” buildings by reducing airflow (and therefore, heat loss). The Light Revolution is a beautifully researched book about the sun’s journey over time through our collective consciousness. It is also a medical book, celebrating the healing power of sunshine, which has been known to cure a whole host of diseases and other maladies. Even as a solar enthusiast, I learned a lot about ways in which solar power and medicine has been utilized in the past, and also about why current architecture has strayed from its heliocentric past incarnations. When you realize just how many things the sun can cure, and how many very respectable people have argued its merits over the years, it is almost hard to figure how the box factory/warehouse/office building came to be.
What I liked most about the book was its discussions of quality of light. After all, sitting under a tree is hardly the same as sitting on a beach, though both can be considered daylight. According to Dr. Hobday, our modern lighting systems are negatively affecting our health, and costing us billions of dollars in loss of health and productivity. The quality of indoor light is most often below the luminant threshold necessary for internal vitamin D production. As you’ll discover in the book, vitamin D is absolutely critical to our ability to prevent and heal infections and diseases.
Rounding out the interest to readers is an interesting look at how political considerations often eclipse design considerations in the planning and construction of buildings. He showcases some nice attempts at solar building design from the past, and shows how each achieves or falls short of its goals. In the end, the lessons from the past serve to greatly underline the future potential of light therapy and its applications in health and architecture.
Looking for an easy way to integrate a little alternative energy into your holiday festivities? There are a lot of exciting solar products coming out of Asia these days, as several eastern countries have gotten the jump on the US in terms of R&D and product development. Which isn’t so good for the US’ current energy market, but it is good for solar energy enthusiasts! Why don’t you try a string of solar powered Christmas lights in your front yard? They turn themselves on automatically at dusk (if you want them too), similar to existing solar lawn lamps, they have solid light or blinking options, and they can easily be strung around fences, eaves, railings and wreaths to create a cheerful effect that’s also effortlessly green.
I have a set of white fairy style lights of this type, and they are great. Not having a yard, I simply place the receiver in the window each morning and come sunset, I have a 60-LED solar powered flashlight for late night reading that lasts several hours! They throw a surprising amount of light for their tiny size. If you’re interested in these or any other solar power accessories such as solar powered flashlights for emergency or off-grid use, head to ebay today and search for solar lights. Finally, sunshine you can hold in your hand!
National Geographic article on Solar plastics
Sargent Group – Inventors of Solar Plastic
Ted Sargent’s Home Page (the inventor, a globally recognized young innovator)
So this article is from 2005, not exactly hot-off-the-presses. But it’s an interesting look at a new technology: solar cells that absorb both the visible and infrared spectrums of light and process them into usable energy. Not only that, they’re based in a spray solution for ease of application across a variety of surfaces. A spray-on plastic coating that could charge your car while driving or your cell-phone while walking are great ideas, with a billion more applications to be dreamed up along the way. I’m now going to search for more information on this technology, and will report whatever I find to you as it comes in.
Even now, I’m envisioning spray-painting a backyard deck/patio with a plastic coating that weather proofs it, and makes it more attractive, all while powering solar evening lamps or CMOS security sensors around a property’s perimeter, perhaps also powering a sensor-activated automatic watering system for garden plantings. Or, on a less serious tack, maybe creating a line of ultra-mod swimwear that uses solar plastics and a closed system of lighting to create light-up fashions? How cool would that look underwater? What do you see in your solar dreams?
So here’s a great idea for all you solar panel owners out there:
These plasma lights use next-to-no energy, and are wired for 12V (aka your solar panel/battery). As you can see, they emit a lot of light for the power used, so you could light up a room with a bulb or two. Nice!
Click on the banner ad below to buy one today! (yeah, I don’t usually advertise like this, but your purchases will help me support this blog.)
clipped from www.plasmaled.com
5mm & 8mm wired LEDs
- ALL LEDs Each come with wire & resistor attached for 12V use
- Wire is at least 1 Feet in length
- Will also work for 6V-13V DC applications
- Assembled in the USA! Best Quality!
- Water Proof! We don’t tell you! We show you!