Night Lights

Beyond a doubt truth bears the same relation to falsehood as light to darkness. – Leonardo da Vinci

Just as the everyday world is periodically transformed by a fall of snow, so too the suburbs are transformed each and every night.

Alert in the dark, our senses are heightened, sensitive to movement and sound. From the shadowy darkness a fox ambles non chalantly across a road before disappearing behind a bush in someones front garden. The paper fan of moth wings beat against the plastic shell of a street lamp, one of hundreds of thousands all over the city, whose orange glow lights the cloudy underside of an overcast sky. At night as I walk, pondering the truth of things, the empty streets appear almost normal.

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Knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darknesses of other people. – Carl Jung

Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first, and is waiting for it.― Terry Pratchett, Reaper Man

Night LightsDraft

Artificial light increase over Europe since the early 1990s. Photographs: European Space Agency/Nasa

Modern society depends on light in many forms; from high-intensity natural daylight and artificial lighting, to the glow of TV screens, computers, tablets, smartphones, and games. Light is so ubiquitous – and generally travels unseen (except, for instance, in fog) – that we often take it for granted.
We probably have more light than we need, while people are generally unaware of the amount of light they are exposed to, and of its economic and environmental costs.
Over recent decades…use of energy for lighting has been increasing and science has realized light has a significant influence on our health, he pointed out – think seasonal affective disorder, or SAD – as well as [how light is] affecting plants, animals, and insects.
A citizen science survey has been designed to obtain the first national data on the amount of night light, its influence on our sleeping patterns and local ecology, and also the general public’s perceptions of the night-time sky.

Words: Professor Brian Espey, School of Physics, Trinity College Dublin, JesseJames. Image: JesseJames, European Space Agency/Nasa.

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