Under the slogan “Lichtspiele” (Light Shows), the science festival co-organised by the German Physical Society (DPG) and the Federal Ministry of Research in Jena (Germany), attracted more than 53,000 visitors. That made it by far the most successful in the history of the Highlights.
As you are turning on the bedside light and are about to read a story to your children, tell them that in many parts of the world, millions and millions of children their age live with no electricity and with no electric light. Tell your children that most of these children spend the evening with the dim light of an open fire, a candle, a kerosene lamp or a flashlight. Tell your children that because of the very poor lighting, these children are really not able to do any school work or read a book at night.
It is estimated that 1.3 billion people worldwide have no direct access to electricity and no electric light. Instead, they resort to candles, kerosene lamps, or flashlights. Kerosene generates noxious fumes that are harmful to health. Indoor pollution from the fumes can cause many respiratory issues such as asthma and bronchitis and the accidental ingestion of kerosene can lead to poisoning and even death. Candles and kerosene lamps are also prone to causing dangerous body burns and triggering house fires that, in crowded areas, can devastate entire communities. In addition, candles and kerosene lamps give light that is very dim, only one hundredth to one tenth of the standards recommended to accommodate many tasks and to allow for reading.
Light plays a central role in human activities. On the most fundamental level through photosynthesis, light is necessary to the existence of life itself, and the many applications of light have revolutionized society through medicine, communications, entertainment and culture. Industries based on light are major economic drivers, and light-based technologies directly respond to the needs of humankind by providing access to information, promoting sustainable development, and increasing societal health and well-being.
Finland is one of the luckiest countries in the world when it comes to light. And I’m not just talking about our Midnight Sun, when the Sun will not go behind the horizon for a long time in the northern parts of the country, like Lapland, and when it’s possible to read through the night without any artificial lighting even in the southern parts of our country.