The visit of a Museum is basically a visual experience. For that experience to happen, light is the key factor that contributes to creating the right atmospheres as well as to rendering the artifacts and exhibitions value. Without light, it would be impossible to enjoy, learn and experience the visit of a Museum.
Hundreds of people attended an evening event this past Saturday titled, “Light for a Better World: A Celebration of U.S. Innovation” at the National Academy of Sciences. This was one of two flagship events anchoring International Year of Light and Light-Based Technologies (IYL 2015) celebration in the United States, and it featured several delightful lectures by a distinguished panel of speakers followed by a nice reception.
The evening was sponsored by the U.S. IYL 2015 organizing committee, which includes the National Science Foundation, National Academy of Sciences, The Optical Society, American Institute of Physics, American Physical Society, IEEE Photonics Society and SPIE.
An earlier, daytime event called “Wonders of Light – Family Science Fun” at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian where more than 500 people, largely children and their parents, were treated to more than a dozen booths offering hands-on activities. I will describe more about that daytime event in a separate blog. First, let me describe the evening event and how well the speakers there captured the dual themes reflected in the title: light innovation and working toward a better world.
Street lights illuminate the roads we drive on, the pedestrian paths we walk along and the public areas where we gather. This outdoor lighting provides us with safe roads, inviting public areas and enhanced security in our neighborhood, businesses, and city centers. As so many of our modern day achievements, we often don’t think about it, only noticing it when it’s not there.
The way outdoor lighting systems are managed has changed greatly in the past ten years. Traditionally lighting scouting teams were driving through the streets to spot failed lights. Paper maps and files were used to manage the maintenance of the lighting installation. The energy consumption of the lighting installation could often only be estimated. In a time, when cities and road authorities aim to reduce costs, to increase safety, and to protect the environment better – street lighting becomes a key target for further improvements.
Today 1.2 billion people around the world do not have access to electricity. Without light, they resort to using dangerous and unhealthy toxic carbon-emitting kerosene lanterns to extend daily hours to be able to do daily tasks such as cooking and studying. To address this issue, the VELUX Group and the social business Little Sun are collaborating to help bring clean, reliable, and affordable light to off-grid African regions.
At the Light Painting World Alliance website, you’ll find the phrase “Night is Canvas”. Night is no ordinary word for me, I suffer from night blindness. It’s a powerful, often frightening word, separating me from the able bodied, putting me in the folder labelled “Unable”- legally blind, asking for help to cross the street. Night, and its draining, light-less hardships, needn’t be only that. After all, the other part, “canvas” is what matters more in the end.