Friday, 6 September 2013

Divine Light

Who would have thought that a bottle, some water, a black top, two teaspoons of bleach, and a bit of resin, could transform millions of lives, but put together the correct way, they produce light in dark spots during the day. They are called Moser lights after the Brazilian inventor Alfredo Moser, and if there is any justice in the world, then he should get a Nobel Prize (it may not be the biggest breakthrough in science but its impact for good is huge) ... instead he has made no money at all.

These 'daylights' remove the need for stolen or expensive electricity to light garages, dark home (slum homes rarely have many windows for security and space reasons), small work stations and even bedrooms at the back of habitations. Its also incredibly eco-friendly (recycling plastic, using less electricity, and the water doesn't have to be potable), in areas of the world where ecological damage is part of the background of every day life.

The method to make them is as follows:
  • Fill an empty two-litre plastic bottle.
  • Add two capfuls of bleach (to protect the water so it doesn't turn green with algae) - The cleaner the bottle, the better.
  • Makes a hole in a roof tile with a drill and then, from the bottom upwards, push the bottle into the newly-made hole.
  • Seal the bottle into the hole with resin to hold it in place and prevent rain getting through. 

And that's it .... a light. Depending on how strong the sun it's more or less 40 to 60 watts of light. Enough indeed to grow food on small hydroponic farms, using the light provided by the bottle lamps .... over a million people have benefited from these simple lights, and many many millions more expected to benefit over the next decade.

Moser Lights - A Minor Miracle For The Third World.

So how does it work, "Refraction" (which is the bending of light,  caused by a change in its speed as it moves through different mediums e.g from air to water). So sunlight is bent by the bottle of water, and spread around the room, an effect we have all observed occasionally, but an act of genius by Mr Moser to realise the potential in the third world ..... a divine light as Mr Moser calls it.

We live in a strange world, in which recognition is only given to those who make obscure breakthroughs on star building theories, but not for a practical method to make the light from those suns serve the poor.


  1. Great story, thanks for posting it!

    1. It is a real good news story, which should be trumpeted to the world, but will probably never get the publicity it deserves.

    2. When you see who gets nominated .... Eg Higgs from Higgs Boson .... You have a point.

    3. I'm not sure that your cynicism is well placed there Anonymous. The hypothesis which led to the discovery of the sub-atomic particle responsible for mass may have significant consequences for humanity. That this under reported invention is deserving of more credit doesn't necessarily devalue others.

    4. Vroomfondel - when you say 'cynicism' I am not sure I undertand your rebuke. There is theoretical knowledge and science that has no practical usages e.g. The 'God Particle' or cosmic background radiation etc, especially since given the limit of the speed of light, we will never leave our solar system and collonise another star.

      So while this knowledge is all well and good, science for science sake if you will, but for someone in a favela in Rio, a cheap, 'green' light source that adds quality to what is often a squalid and miserable existence is something tangible, and thats of far more importance.

      The awards community should occasionally give a nod to the sort of idea that actually impacts real lives in the 3rd world, and not just the lucky 1st world communities.

    5. It's not a rebuke to describe a view as cynical. It's early days for the Higgs boson but of course research carries a risk of going nowhere, however targeted research carries a risk of rejecting unintended benefits because they're nothing to do with the goal. Many very useful inventions were accidents or results of research for other or no purpose.


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