In the early days of electricity, it was used as an artificial moon

Harper's Weekly, 1883 via Library of Congress/Public Domain

Megan Garber at The Atlantic has a very interesting piece about the early days of electricity, and how back then it was commonly used as a way to try to emulate the moon.

In the early years of electricity -- a time when steady illumination was new and expensive and unwieldy -- Americans knew one thing clearly: They wanted light, and lots of it, and as quickly as possible, please. What they were less sure of, though, was how they would get that light. A grid of electric lamps, studded throughout towns -- a system that mimicked and often repurposed the infrastructure of gas lamps -- was the early and obvious method. But street lights required wires, which, when hastily assembled, had an annoying tendency to disentangle and fall onto the streets below. [...] in their haste to vanquish nature by erasing the line between day and night, they ended up looking to nature as a guide. They looked up, seeking a model in the largest and most reliable source of nocturnal light they knew: the moon. (source)

You can read the whole piece here: Tower of Light: When Electricity Was New, People Used It to Mimic the Moon.

It raised the question, what are we doing now that will seem just as passé in 100 years (kind of like these 100+ years old drawings)? Factory farming and eating meat from sentient animals rather than "grown" meat that doesn't case suffering? Burning fossil fuels, messing with our planet's climate, and dumping the toxic by-products of combustion in the air we breathe? Build cities that aren't designed for people? Waste so much useful energy with inefficient things (buildings, vehicles, lights, electronics, etc)? Overfish the oceans to the point of making whole ecosystems collapse? Bury so many potentially useful materials in landfills for them to rot and release methane? What else?

See also: The Future Ain't What it Used to Be!

Tags: Electricity


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