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Light

Where does the story of life and light begin? Maybe with the fact that most life on Earth runs on sunlight, or that starlight may…By Michael Segal

Where does the story of life and light begin? Maybe with the fact that most life on Earth runs on sunlight, or that starlight may have set the direction in which all of Earth’s biomolecules spiral. Or is it the ancient photosynthetic transformation of our planet? The human fascination with light offers its own set of beginnings: from Paleolithic cave painters creating animation using flickering firelight, to the astrologer’s arithmetic, Hipparchus’ trigonometry, Newton’s rainbows, and the stunning revelations of the double slit experiment.

Plainly put, we love light—or, in the more eloquent words of Robert Grosseteste, the 13th-century Bishop of Lincoln and pioneer of the English intellectual tradition, “Physical light is the best, the most delectable, the most beautiful of all the bodies that exist.” Which raises another question: When most of us cannot see the Milky Way, and glowing screens have shifted our circadian rhythms, have we had too much light, and can we win darkness back?

Welcome to “Light.”

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