Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Let there be light - part 1 #OurAuthorGang

Nature is amazing. We humans are, for the most part, in awe of it and have been ever since we crawled out of the primal ooze. Nothing stirs the soul quite so much as a beautiful sunset, a sunrise, a mass of twinkling stars, or the constant glow of the moon.

The sun gives us light and warmth, stars make us wonder about far off worlds, the moon illuminates our darkness with its wide-eyed face looking down on us like a distant mother watching her children. 

Not surprising that mankind worshipped these celestial orbs. From Ancient Egyptians and Aztec
sun gods to modern day Druids worshiping Alban Hefin the sun king during the Summer Solstice sunrise over Stonehenge, our need for light is deep routed in our psysche.

Many writers have used light to express happiness, love, hope, expectation. Just listen to some songs, the word 'light' comes up quite often. In my short story Glimmer, the protagonist, a young man resisting the drugs he is given to keep him 'sane', retreats into his own world and listens for the voices that come from the stars.

The world will not end because I close my eyes. The sun will still shine, so too the stars.

Many religions past and present have celebrated the joys of light. Festivals and special feast days such as Diwali, a Hindu tradition where families fill their homes and gardens with candles and lamps to celebrate the triumph of good over evil, to ignite wisdom in our hearts and bring hope to our darkest hours. The Jewish festival Hanukkah celebrating the victory of the Maccabees over the Hellenistic Syrians begins with the lighting of the shamash candle in the menorah. Christians light candles to honour the dead and pray for loved ones who need help. At Christmas, we decorate our houses with strings of cloloured lights

When there is no light, we miss it, don’t we? People in general, aren’t fond of the dark. Danger lurks in the shadows. What we can’t see we fear. Not so for cats or owls. They have a tapetum behind their retinas which acts like a mirror to reflect any source of limited light causing their pupils to expand and cover the entire front of their eyes. Enabling them to see in the almost dark.

Humans are adaptable though, and what we don’t possess naturally, we create. Our ancient ancestors recreated the sun by making fire. As we evolved so to did our methods of lighting our homes and streets. The ancient wood burning led to the use of wax candles, then gas lights, which were replaced by the magic of electricity, light bulbs. However, there is a cost to all of this. These wonderful illuminations have put a huge burden on our resources. Fossil fuels needed to generate our bright world are coming to an end. Even with wind turbines and solar panelling we are still in danger of not have enough power to generate all of the lights that are turned on across the planet each night. Will future generations be plunged into darkness?

Perhaps not, for there may be a simple solution to all of this.

Both fauna and flora have naturally occurring light sources. The Firefly, squid, jellyfish, insects, plankton and some strains of fungi, emit a bright glow that is generated from within. No outside source of energy is needed to produce their brightness.

Let me introduce you to Bioluminescence. Possibly the next step in our search for sustainable and renewable energy that will bring light to our darkness.

Check out these amazing creatures that glow in the dark: http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/21011428

Watch out for my next post – Foxfire - where new technical advances are using natures natural light to brighten our world.

All photographs are by the author.

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