Experiments are being prosecuted to ascertain the possibilities of artificial light in the forcing of plant-growth, and even chickens are made to work longer hours by its use.
Artificial light is now modified in color or spectral character to meet many requirements. Daylight has been reproduced in spectral quality so that certain processes requiring accurate discrimination of color are now prosecuted twenty-four hours a day under artificial daylight. Colored light is made of the correct quality which does not affect photographic plates of various sensibilities. Monochromatic light is utilized in photo-micrography for the best rendition of detail. Light-waves have been utilized as standards of length because they are invariable and fundamental. Numerous other interesting adaptations of artificial light are in daily use.
This is in reality the age of artificial light, for mankind has not only become independent of daylight in certain respects, but has improved upon natural light. The controllability of artificial light makes it superior to natural light in many ways. In fact, uses have been made of artificial light which are impossible with natural light. Light-sources may be made of a vast variety of shapes, and those may be transported wherever desired. They may be equipped with reflectors and other optical devices to direct or to diffuse the light as required.
Thus, artificial light to-day has numerous advantages over light which has been furnished by the Creator. It is sometimes stated that it can never compete with daylight in cheapness, inasmuch as the latter costs nothing. But this is not true. Even in the residence, daylight costs something, because windows are more expensive than plain walls. The expense of washing windows is an appreciable percentage of the cost of gas or electricity. And there is window-breakage to be considered.
In the more elaborate buildings of the congested portions of cities, daylight is satisfactory a lesser number of hours than in the outlying districts. In some stores, offices, and factories artificial light is used throughout the day. Still, the daylighting-equipment is installed and maintained. Furthermore, when it is considered that much expensive area is given to light-courts and much valuable wall space to windows, it is seen that the cost of daylight in congested cities is in reality considerable. Of course, the daylighting-equipment has value in ventilating, but ventilation may be taken care of in a very satisfactory manner as a separate problem.
The cost of skylights in museums and other large buildings is far greater than that of ordinary ceilings and walls, and the extra allowance for heating is appreciable. The expense of maintenance of some skylights is considerable. Thus it is seen that the cost and maintenance of daylighting-equipment, the loss of valuable rental space and of wall area, and the increased expense of heating are factors which challenge the statement that daylight costs nothing. In fact, it is not surprising to find that occasionally the elimination of daylighting—the reliance upon artificial light alone—has been seriously contemplated. When the possibilities of the latter are considered, it is reasonable to expect that it will make greater and greater inroads and that many buildings of the future will be equipped solely with artificial-lighting systems.
Naturally, with the tremendous development of artificial light during the present age, a new profession has arisen. The lighting expert is evolving to fill the needs. He is studying the problems of producing and utilizing artificial illumination. He deals with the physics of light-production. His studies of utilization carry him into the vast fields of physiology and psychology. His is a profession which eventually will lead into numerous highways and byways of enterprise, because the possibilities of lighting extend into all those activities which make their appeal to consciousness through the doorway of vision. These possibilities are limited only by the boundaries of human endeavor and in the broadest sense extend even beyond them, for light is one of the most prominent agencies in the scheme of creation. It contributes largely to the safety, the efficiency, and the happiness of civilized beings and beyond all it is a powerful civilizing agency.