Thursday 24 October 2013


This story truly appealed to my Vitamin D starved sensibilities. Thanks to modern technology, a Norwegian valley town will get direct sunlight for the first time in years [and you think you have problems], thanks to three giant mirrors placed on the mountaintop. The industrial town of Rjukan exists within a very deep valley and gets no direct sunlight from September to March. [The thought of that literally makes my insides weep]. In the past, when people wanted direct sunlight, they would have to take a cable car up to the top of the mountain for any access to direct sunlight. I don’t know about you, but this would be about the time I’d be looking relocate. 

After years of throwing around ideas, in the shade, it was decided that with the aid of helicopters, three enormous mirrors (their fancy name: heliostats) would be placed 450 metres above the town so as to reflect the sun directly into the town’s main square. How much do you want to bet there will be a lot of ‘square parties’ this year in Rjukan. "Bust out the wine, put away the vitamin D, we’ve got some sunlight celebrating to do!" A local resident thought up the plan and won funding for it (about half a million pounds) in order to realize the residents' dream. Apparently, the idea was thought of over 100 years ago (yes, you heard me), but apparently the lack of sun starved the people of their decision making power. Okay, fine, they also lacked the technology back then, so instead the town opted for the cable car. But the fact that it took this long speaks volumes to what I’ve been saying all along – take away the sun and you take away one’s will to live! Yes, I’m dramatic, but I live in England, and we often go weeks without proper sunshine. It can turn you into a powerless slug, I assure you.

In the case of these mirrors, they are controlled by a computer to determine the best angle to direct the sun’s path right onto the town and have been equipped with solar panels to wash and move the panels into proper position when need be. All in all, it’s a well-hatched plan, environmentally conscious plan with a positive solution for these poor sun starved residents. The town’s website now applicably states that ‘the square will become a sunny meeting place in a town otherwise in shadow.’ All I can say for the people of Rjukan, is at least there is sun in the sky to direct somewhere. As winter descends upon England, I tell myself what I always do each year winter knocks on our proverbial doors: California is only a plane ride away. Thank god for that. 

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