To foster greater understanding of how we harness sunlight, we will celebrate the UN’s coming International Year of Light by culling from John Perlin’s “Let It Shine: The 6000-Year Story of Solar Energy.” Perlin’s work is the only book that has thoroughly chronicled the development and application of solar throughout, focusing on key themes, people and events that have laid the foundation for an enduring Solar Age.
I will start this engaging study describing the Year of Light, as envisioned by the UN, followed with an introductory Q&A with Mr. Perlin.
The International Year of Light
On 20 December 2013, the UN General Assembly proclaimed 2015 as the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies. This International Year will bring together many different scientific societies and unions, educational institutions, technology platforms, non-profit organizations, and private sector partners.
Focusing on the topic of light science and its applications, the UN cited the importance of raising global awareness about how light-based technologies can promote sustainable development in energy, education, agriculture, and health. “Light plays a vital role in our daily lives and is an imperative cross-cutting discipline of science in the 21st century. It has revolutionized medicine, opened up international communication via the Internet, and continues to be central to linking cultural, economic and political aspects of the global society,” writes the International Year of Light website.
As such, the International Year of Light will consist of coordinated activities on national, regional, and international levels. One of the main goals of the International Year of Light will be to allow people of all ages and all backgrounds to gain an appreciation for the central role sunlight has played over the millennia in making life better for humanity through architecture and urban planning; agriculture and horticulture; desalination; solar thermal – water heating, drying, and cooking; and the generation of electricity.