Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Hon. Lily D'Ambrosio Vic Minister for Industry
Minister for Energy and Resources
SOLIS and IDA Victoria have attended the first day of Australian Smart Lighting Conference 2015 or try #auslight2015.  This is conference for the lighting industry so no specific topics dealing with light pollution.  The conference does give an excellent overview of where various organisations are at with new technologies and ideas in the Australian sphere.

The current trend in the bread & butter component of the lighting industry, street lighting, is the refits of LED streetlights.  This is also a trend across the world in the USA and Europe in particular, I also discovered today that China is also racing ahead.  Some of these programs in other countries, and an example is the city of Davis, California where an LED program was halted and assessed on the premise of community amenity because the CCT of the newly installed lights was considered by the residents to be too high.  The high CCT of these lights was felt to be too harsh and too much glare.  The high CCT results in a very sharp white colour more suitable for clinical hospitals than residential streets.

So where is the Australian LED program at?  The Hon. Lily D'Ambrosia is Victorian Minister for Industry and also the Minister for Energy and Resources, she spoke at length regarding the national positioning of Victoria as the leading State for road lighting efficiency.  All State Govts. and the Federal Govt have schemes that encourage the replacement of old technology road lighting with energy efficient road lighting and of course this means LEDs, the greater the efficiency gains the greater the incentive.  This means that the blue-rich LEDs will almost always win out.

I'll leave the actual numbers for another blog, I think SOLIS and IDA Victoria need to be suggesting that  any efficiency gains should be accepted and that lower CCT lights will also bring savings and additional benefits without the risk of blue-rich light

Monday, June 22, 2015

Here's an interesting article on light and health the Sydney Morning Herald last Sunday 21st June 2015. Six Ways Sleep Deprivation Can Damage Your Life . The article is at an introductory level and doesn't include any mention of melatonin - still it is worth a read.  The graph showing the increase of incidents related to sleep disorders is interesting - it's  steady increase.  And the link to Altzheimers is also important for investigation.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Blue Light Symposium - New York, New York

Have some spare time, can afford a last minute trip to New York, New York.  Starts on June 26 - 2015.  Could be fun, certain to be interesting - here's the link New York Blue Light Symposium

Back to it

Submitted the final assignment for this semester of my Masters in Illumination Design.  It's been a hectic time since returning from Canada and LPTMM2015 and ALAN2015.  Hoping I can get a SOLIS meeting up over the coming week, meetings have been delayed and reorganised this year because of my university commitments.

And back to LPTMM2015, the website has been updated and can be found here : LPTMM2015 just like you attended the conference - and without the jet lag.  All of the presentations are fantastic material if you're interested in the effects of light in our environment.  Not only for humans, also for wildlife, it's important to acknowledge that animals may see in a different part of the spectrum to humans and that lighting must also be tuned to the needs of wildlife, two of the talks were on the topic of wildlife, Robert Dick of Canada spoke on a luminaire designed to have a low impact on wildlife and Kellie Pendolly and Rob Ryan (the other Australians at LPTMM2015), Kellie is a an environmental scientist specialising in turtles and marine science, find her here Pendolly Environmental .

CCT not always blue
Robert Dick was in Australia recently attending World Parks Conference in 2014, hoping that he could convince environmentalists of low CCT lights with a low emission component of blue light.  So I'm stealing a couple of images from his presentation.  Roberts presentation centred on the human response to light, and how a high CCT is not always correlated to spectrum, it depends on manufacturer and that some LEDs have a low CCT but a strong emission in the blue spectrum.
SPDs of Commercial LEDs

And the result could be something like this.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

So what is ALAN and why 2015.

ALAN is the acronym for 'Artificial Light at Night' (don't start on the topic of - 'artificial').  Basically as humans have created a lit environment - for use in daylight and at night, the natural environmental conditions that humans evolved under has been replaced by an artificial environment. Is that good or bad or does it matter?

I came to the issue of light pollution through astronomy, as a child I was able to stand in the backyard of a suburban home in Sydney and see the Centaurus arm of our galaxy and in particular a dark nebula in the constellation Crux - the Southern Cross, the constellation that Australia and many Australians have used to identify ourselves as a nation, a constellation that is now fading as the increased level of light pollution floods the night sky.

One aspect of ALAN investigated at the conference was the social concepts and policy and use of lighting, in both interior and exterior uses.  A curious aside to one of the talks was a topic of 'Film Noir after black-and-white' by Dr Will Straw of McGill Institute for the Study of Canada, McGill University,Qc, Canada.  Dr Straw's talk by concentrating on the lighting conditions used in film noir contrasted the ideas of dark as threatening with the idea of light as safety and surety, light being an answer, solution or possibly saviour revealing the truth - light can only be good.

Well away from the days of film noir we use light to obviously extend our days and presumably our productivity - again increased productivity must be good and so light must also be good.  We even extend our natural day by using a technique of daylight savings so we adjust our clocks to use more of the natural day.  However by increasing our use of the day, this increases the load and energy demands on the human body, the human body responds to sleep by repairing damage to the body.

So is artificial light at night preventing the body from repairing damage?  If that damage isn't repaired then what is the immediate, short term and long term consequences of human health?

Our relationship to light is complex and without doubt the answer may well be complex, although the easiest solution is to turn off the lights.

Tweeting Light

The conferences were packed with amazing talks and stacks of information,  I'll be keen to see the presentations up on-line as well as the recorded versions up on You-Tube.  I tried keeping the Tweet stream for @SOLIS_Syd going, getting the message on light pollution out there and getting it recognised is difficult,  Twitter is fantastic social media platform for connecting with people and it was a buzz to meet up with people running Twitter accounts on light pollution who until now were simply Twitter accounts.  So here's a list of some of us @josianemeier @remiboucher @pmisson @sjribas @riverperkin @IDAToronto @IDADarkSky @cities4night @IDAQuebec @skyglowberlin @travislongcore @RASC_LPA I'm sure there's many more.

Melatonin and jet lag

I mentioned earlier a talk by Dr Kristan Aronson, I was able to catch-up with her the next morning and asked about the relationship of melatonin supplements and jet-lag, jet-lag being a current topic of interest to me.  Dr Aronson said that the effectiveness of melatonin supplements is genetic and that if the the supplement is used as directed then indeed - it works.  At a conference of mainly scientific people and where many have flown significant distances I was at first a bit taken a back by the number of people who said they were taking the melatonin supplement and could affirm the benefits.

Dr Aronson added that these supplements are used by nurses on shift work and advised on jet-lag that for every hour of time difference that a person required a day for recovery - with the Sydney-Montreal difference being 14 hours, that's 14 days - she said I'll probably just reset when I get home as if I hadn't been away.  Anyway I think I'll be looking for a chemist at the airport in Montreal or Los Angeles - melatonin supplements cannot be bought and just aren't available in Australia.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Catching Up

I'm way behind in my blog - #ALAN2015 and it was simply too busy with presentations, interesting people to talk with and activities.  I was too slow in booking a place on the bus to Mount Megantic - the first declared IDA Dark Sky Reserve and missed out on the bus breakdown, a 2.5 km walk in the dark and arrival back to the hotel in Sherbrooke at 2am.  I've now had a couple of rides on the yellow Bluebird buses - just like the busses in South Park.  I think someone doesn't like school children.  The schoolchildren of Sydney get luxury - especially when they don't give up a seat for an adult.  These buses look like they would fit right in on the streets of Bangkok - just too much bling.

On the way to #LPTMM2015 - the conference preceeding #ALAN2015 I met Connie Walker an astronomer from NOAO (National Optical Astronomical Observatory) Connie has an education role as well as being astronomer and she organises the Globe at Night campaign.  The Globe at Night campaign is an attempt to monitor sky brightness across the world by encouraging participation in estimating the limiting magnitude of your local sky. Have a look at the map for 2014. I hope your city is not embarrassed.  Connie I shared the shuttle bus trip from Montreal to Sherbrooke the morning after a midnight arrival in Montreal - finding the shuttle bus was an adventure in itself, we made it Sherbrooke without a problem.  We spent the afternoon wandering around Sherbrooke doing an inventory of luminaries - some very interesting ones were found - I'll save that for later.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

1st Day part 2

Melatonin and Cancer
The real action - the scientific talks get underway with the lead by Dr Kristan Aronson, on  'Human health effects of exposure to light at night, with emphasis on biomarkers and breast cancer.'. This was a fascinating talk describing the observed relationship between the effects of shift work and the relationships to cancer.  After a session of statistics at university it was a real buzz to hear someone using terms such as 'the statistical power of a test' - makes it real and that the technical detail is a necessity.  The talk ranged over a number of issues and noted that melatonin is one of the most ancient hormones, present even in bacteria; melatonin is certain to prove to be a major driver of circadian rhythm and behaviour.

1st Day at ALAN 2015

It was an exciting day for the first day at ALAN2015.  So exciting that compressed into half a day it was twice as exciting.  The day started with Clifford Paul describing his traditional links to the land, the environment and the sky as a member of the Mikmaq nation.  In a modern world it is often suggested that the activities of humans are of  a new definition and are sure to become a replacement for tradition.  It is difficult to accept the awe inspired by a dark night sky and a vault of brilliant shining stars and the luminous galaxy could be seen as a lesser alternative to city buildings at night. Possibly the glittering toothless facades of buildings can be seen as a placebo of the night sky.

Reducing the Blue Spectrum
The second talk was from Pierre Goulet and Sebastian Guigere, Piere Goulet was instrumental in establishing the first International Dark Sky Reserve that is located nearby to Sherbrooke at Mount-Megantic.  The requirements for a day sky park can be difficult to meet and reducing the sky glow from neighbouring towns is of primary concern, there has been a considerable effort to reduce the amount of blue light emitted from street lighting.  Their talk concentrated on the on-going battle to reduce the content of blue spectrum in local lighting and the efforts of dealing with lighting manufacturers to come to the party with suitable luminaries.  Their approach was to not increase the amount of blue spectrum and to not reduce the current utility of existing lighting when compared to the existing high pressure sodium.

One of the solutions resulted in street lights at 1800K and PC-Amber lights in the low 2000's of K.  Of course these luminaries have a lower efficacy than the blue rich LEDs and when the market is being driven by government sponsored energy reduction schemes the financial reward for choosing the high efficacy blue-rich LED is too great for most public utilities.  This is a world-wide issue which is having far reaching effects.

The nature of the light emitted by blue-rich LEDs is seen as being cold and white and giving a high colour rendering.  Many people would describe the light as harsh and stark, yet local utilities and councils argue that this a better light for safety and visibility.

PEP Talk
The following talk by Scott Feierabend of the International Dark Sky Association fired us up to understand the power of numbers and the need for  a collective change of mind to understand the consequences of light pollution and what will be lost if the trend to over lighting and irresponsible use of outdoor lighting continues.

I need to come back for a second instalment - as it's time to go into the second day of ALAN 2015.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

A quick update - 2nd day 1st

Half way through the second day.  I'll update on the 1st day later.  With a mind distorted by jet lag and failing co-ordination, typing a sentient sentence was far too challenging.  The morning has concentrated on the aspects of light pollution that are variables of spectral attributes.  Covering aerosols, photometry, lamps, aerosol optical depth.  Some great results derived from the DMSP, ISS and other satellite data, mobile SQMs and mobile spectrometers.

Friday, May 22, 2015

The first post

This is the first post to the SOLIS blog.  SOLIS is Sydney Outdoor Lighting Improvement Society.  I've been meaning to start this blog for a while and the current impetus is an imminent trip to Canada, Quebec for a conference on light pollution.  In fact, two conferences.  I'm missing out on two lighting events in Sydney #VividSydney (@VividSydney) and @SPARC2015 ) no hashtag for them (oops).  I'll be following these Sydney events from Canada and blogging on my two events in Canada.  The bags are packed - almost, I need to fire-up and build my new MacBook so I can stay in touch and get my University work done - a few other important things and then I'm out of here.