April 22, 2013

Illuminating differences

Nighttime satellite pictures of the the north-south divide in Korea reveal the stark contrast between a first-world, technologically-developed country and a medieval totalitarian state.

On the other hand, this ISS photo of Berlin tells an interesting story of technological choices. In this case, sodium vapor street lamps in what was East Berlin versus mercury vapor in what was West Berlin.

According to a commenter on Tyler Cowen's blog, after reunification, the existing lighting infrastructure was maintained (quoting from a German government website) "to enhance orientation by neighborhood."

Japan, on the other hand, uses a lot of fluorescent street lamps in residential areas. They don't so much light up a street as keep it from being pitch black, a commentary on expectations of public safety, perhaps.

Although these quaint fluorescents are giving way to LEDs (scroll down to the bottom here for a comparison). In Clannad: After Story, Tomoya's first job as an electrician is repairing fluorescent street lamps.

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