The Astrophysics of Earth: light-life interactions beyond photosynthesis
Fri 13 October 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm BST
This is the second in a series of four talks on the Bath Preservation Trust / Herschel Museum of Astronomy theme Conserving the Planet. The other two talks are on Fridays 3 November and 1 December – all at BRLSI.
Sunlight is the dominant energy source for Earth’s biosphere, powering life through photosynthesis. It has taken over two centuries to gain an understanding of the how photosynthesis works and yet we are only just beginning to appreciate the ways by which light interacts with animal life.
Over billions of years, the biosphere has adapted to thrive under the solar spectrum modified during its transmission through the atmosphere. The introduction of artificial lighting on a huge scale over the planet during recent decades is breaking this adaptation in ways that are damaging to life, including humans. This understanding allows us to suggest new lighting strategies that should have very significant health benefits and which could be less costly than the current extravagant overuse of energy-efficient but environmentally damaging white lights.
Robert (Bob) Fosbury is currently an emeritus astronomer at the European Southern Observatory and an honorary professor at the Institute of Ophthalmology at University College London.