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.