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The German-born, American physicist Albert Michelson devoted much of his life to the accurate measurement of the speed of light. In 1923, he positioned mirrors and detectors on two different California mountains positioned nearly 35 km (nearly 22 miles) apart. Using a sophisticated timing method of involving the rotating of octagonal mirrors, Michelson determined the speed of light to be 299,774 km/sec. At this speed, estimate the time it takes light to travel 35 km between mountains. For a comprehensive understanding of light pollution, contemporary discourse must be coupled with an exploration of the origins and emergence of the concept, which in turn requires a broad understanding of the development of urban nighttime lighting. Detailed historical studies into the technological innovations and social implications of artificial nighttime lighting have been published in the past few decades (e.g. Bowers, 1998 Bowers, B. (1998). Lengthening the day: A history of lighting technology. Oxford: Oxford University Press. [Google Scholar]; Ekirch, 2005 Ekirch, R. A. (2005). At day’s close: Night in times past. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company Inc. [Google Scholar]; Isenstadt, Maile Petty, & Neumann, 2014 Isenstadt, S., Maile Petty, M., & Neumann, D. (Eds.). (2014). Cities of light: Two centuries of urban illumination. New York, NY: Taylor & Francis. [Google Scholar]; Nye, 1990 Nye, D. E. (1990). Electrifying America: Social meanings of a new technology, 1880–1940. Cambridge: MIT Press. [Google Scholar]; Schivelbusch, 1988 Schivelbusch, W. (1988). Disenchanted night: The industrialization of light in the nineteenth century. (A. Davis, Trans.) London: University of California Press. [Google Scholar]). And, important studies on the social, economic, and legal aspects of nighttime lighting have also been published recently (e.g. Meier, Hasenöhrl, Krause, & Pottharst, 2014 Meier, J., Hasenöhrl, U., Krause, K., & Pottharst, M. (Eds.). (2014). Urban lighting, light pollution and society. New York, NY: Taylor & Francis. [Google Scholar]). The brief discussion below cannot do full justice to the in-depth explorations of nighttime lighting that these scholars have explored, nor to the various cultural and geographical nuances of historical developments in lighting. Rather, I would like to highlight the conditions within which light pollution arose, which puts us in a better position to assess our contemporary definition and ask how the framing of light pollution responds to the core problem discussed above. In particular, Sections 3.1 and 3.2 will highlight the shift away from how to light cities and, somewhat paradoxically, toward a desire for dark or natural nights. Put otherwise, We began with a problem (we have too much light at night) and a related question (how much artificial light at night is appropriate?). We now have the origins, context, and detailed definition in hand for the concept of light pollution. With this, we can return to the question of framing outlined in Section 2, and scrutinize the ethical significance of increasingly relying on light pollution for policy decision-making; we can assess the answer light pollution provides for our question. Increased regulation and alternative design approaches will be necessary to address the myriad of undesired effects uncovered in contemporary research. And, light pollution offers a framing to orient responses. Furthermore, in it’s broad understanding of causes and effects, light pollution accommodates a variety of interpretations, allowing for a multiplicity of regulatory and technical solutions. Dark sky ordinances and new laws already exist, which often include detailed technical specifications.99. Morgan-Taylor (2014 Morgan-Taylor, M. (2014). Regulating light pollution in Europe: Legal challenges and ways forward. In J. Meier, U. Hasenöhrl, K. Krause, & M. Pottharst (Eds.), Urban lighting, light pollution and society (pp. 159–176). New York, NY: Taylor & Francis. [Google Scholar]) provides a brief analysis of current regulatory efforts in Europe. France is cited as having perhaps the strongest law to date, which requires non-residential buildings to switch off exterior lights and window displays between 1am and 7am. Other examples cited include regions of Italy that have taken a technical approach, prohibited lights above a specific brightness to project above the horizontal. Additionally, an online appendix to the article by Kyba et al. (2014 Kyba, C., Hänel, A., & Hölker, F. (2014). Redefining efficiency for outdoor lighting. Energy & Environmental Science, 7, 1806–1809.10.1039/C4EE00566J[Crossref], [Web of Science ®] [Google Scholar]) lists all known regulations and ordinances that are currently in place, as well as their motivations and targets.View all notes However, it is pertinent to reflect on the framework in which these decisions were made, and to consider how light pollution will shape future initiatives. The big bang model assumes that the universe is many billions of years old. While this timescale is sufficient for light to travel from distant galaxies to earth, it does not provide enough time for light to travel from one side of the visible universe to the other. At the time the light was emitted, supposedly 300,000 years after the big bang, space already had a uniform temperature over a range at least ten times larger than the distance that light could have travelled (called the ‘horizon’)11 So, how can these regions look the same, i.e. have the same temperature? How can one side of the visible universe ‘know’ about the other side if there has not been enough time for the information to be exchanged? This is called the ‘horizon problem’.12 Secular astronomers have proposed many possible solutions to it, but no satisfactory one has emerged to date (see Attempts to overcome the big bang’s ‘light-travel–time problem’). Any scarcity of urban nighttime illumination was quickly diminishing as electrification spread across North American and Europe during the twentieth century, developing alongside urbanization and the growth of transportation networks (Isenstadt, 2014 Isenstadt, S. (2014). Good night. Places Journal. Retrieved 22 October, 2014, from https://placesjournal.org/article/good-night/[Crossref] [Google Scholar]). This proliferation of nighttime illumination has been continuous to the present day, save for two major disruptions: World War Two and the energy crisis of the 1970s. However, nighttime illumination efforts quickly resumed shortly after both of these events (Neumann, 2002b Neumann, D. (2002b). Architectural illumination since World War II. In D. Neumann (Ed.), Architecture of the night: The illuminated building (pp. 78–84). New York, NY: Prestel. [Google Scholar]). Current estimates are that artificial nighttime lighting continues to increase globally by about 3–6% annually (Hölker et al., 2010 Hölker, F., Moss, T., Griefahn, B., Kloas, W., Voigt, C., Henckel, D., … Tockner, K. (2010). The dark side of light: A transdisciplinary research agenda for light pollution policy. Ecology and Society, 15(4), 13.10.5751/ES-03685-150413[Crossref], [Web of Science ®] [Google Scholar]). This has been, in many ways, the ultimate realization of values strived for since the seventeenth century. A lengthening of the day has effectively been achieved, creating unmistakably modern nights where the various facets of nightlife can occur, and where many daytime activities can continue well into the night. But this has come with unintended consequences. In his exploration of ‘the world after dark’, Dewdney (2004 Dewdney, C. (2004). Acquainted with the night: Excursions through the world after dark. Toronto: HarperCollins Publishers Ltd. [Google Scholar], p. 101) cleverly evaluates the two-sided nature of this achievement, stating, The first solution of type number six is the white hole cosmology (Humphreys 1994). The white hole cosmology posits that God initially made the universe as a white hole with the earth somewhere near the center of the white hole. The white hole eventually evaporated and ceased to exist during the Creation Week, probably on Day Four. Relativistic time dilation near the event horizon of the white hole allowed for great periods of time to pass elsewhere in much of the universe while only days elapsed on and near the earth. The much greater time elsewhere would allow light from the most distant portions of the universe to reach the earth in just days. Hartnett (2003) has pursued a somewhat similar yet very different solution by using a modified metric for general relativity. This metric has an additional dimension (for a total of five). He has acquired some very interesting results when applied to large structures, such as galaxies and quasars, suggesting that today we are seeing these objects in their infancy, despite their tremendous distances and consequent light travel times. The general relativity solutions have gained much following, but admittedly many supporters do not fully understand the sophisticated mathematics involved. 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