Edward Willett

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Circadian desynchrony and the blue light special

[podcast]https://edwardwillett.com/wp-content/uploads//2012/12/Circadian-Deosynchrony-and-the-Blue-Light-Special.mp3[/podcast] We’re coming up on the shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere: at the latitude I live at, in Regina, Saskatchewan, that means that today the sun rose at 8:49 a.m. and will set at 4:54 p.m. We’ll lose a few more minutes yet before the winter solstice. That’s not a lot of daylight: we spend two-thirds of our day in darkness this time of the year, and of course further north it’s even worse, until you get to the Arctic and twenty-four hours of sunlessness. Thank goodness for artificial light! It means we can live pretty much as we want without being a slave to the natural ...

Posted by Edward Willett at 15:09, December 10th, 2012 under Blog, Columns, Science Columns | Comment now »

Colour

Those who are old enough to remember Paul McCartney as a Beatle probably also remember longing for a colour television. (Nowadays, of course, you hardly ever see a black and white one.) There was something about watching television in colour that made even programs like My Mother the Car sparkle. And as for Star Trek--wow! Human beings have always been fascinated by colour. We use it in artwork, clothing, makeup, houses and cars to communicate, to affect our mood, even to entice prospective mates. It's interesting, then, that objectively speaking, there's nothing special about colours at all: they're just certain wavelengths of light, and light itself is merely that very narrow band of ...

Posted by Edward Willett at 11:21, August 7th, 1991 under Blog, Columns, Science Columns | Comment now »

Perception

Is what you see what's really there, or is it all in your head? "Well, I don't know about you," I hear you say (which is a good trick, considering this is a newspaper column), "but I see what's really there. This newspaper is really here in my hands--I'm not imagining it." No, you're not. But it's all in your head just the same. That's because the sense of sight isn't quite as straightforward as most of us think. We tend to think of the eyes as two little cameras, focusing upside-down, reversed images of what we see on the retina, light-sensitive cells at the back of the eye corresponding to the grain of film ...

Posted by Edward Willett at 18:44, March 13th, 1991 under Blog, Columns, Science Columns | Comment now »