Dark No More

March 10, 2013



Photographer: Dave Lynch
Summary Authors: Dave Lynch; Jim Foster

Not only is the night sky not as dark as it once was in most places, but our homes aren’t as dark either. Do you remember when you got ready for bed and turned off the lights -- the room went dark? Not anymore. Now our rooms incessantly glow and twinkle with lights from power supplies, telephones, internet routers, TVs, set top boxes, power strips and all the other energy vampires that come with modern life. Here are two photos of my home office; two studies in chaos. When my office is fully lit up, it produces in the range of 5,000 lumens or so – equivalent to about three 100-watt incandescent light bulbs. A lumen is the brightness perceived by the human eye. Back before the time of home computers, stray light only entered a darkened room at night through windows. Most likely less than a lumen or two was produced. Nowadays, an office such as mine may generate 10-15 lumens even when all the lights are turned off. Technology and our addiction to it, keeps us from letting go -- and from properly powering down at night. Is it any wonder that more and more people complain about being sleep deprived? Note also that the yellow glow of sodium vapor lamps from Los Angeles is clearly evident through the window.