Tools & Technology


Illumination has long been a quest of humans—in both the cerebral and the physical senses. Today, we focus on the physical type of illumination.

Episode 27 | June 13, 2008

Episode 27: Illumination by Distillations Podcast

Illumination has been a quest of humans for centuries now—both in terms of the cerebral and the physical. In today’s episode we focus on the physical type of illumination. First we learn about light pollution and why sodium vapor lamps are used so abundantly today. Then producer Ann Dornfeld goes to Bioluminescent Bay in Vieques, Puerto Rico, to explore how bioluminescence works. Finally we uncover the mystery behind glow-in-the-dark products like the green star stickers on ceilings or glowing wristwatch numbers. Element of the Week: Sodium.

Show Clock

00:00 Opening Credits
00:32  Introduction
01:14  Element of the Week: Sodium
04:09  Chemistry of Bioluminescence
09:10  Mystery Solved: Glowing in the Dark
11:08  Quote: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
11:24  Closing Credits

Resources and References

For more information about light pollution, visit the International Dark-Sky Association.

To see some cool images from Vieques, Puerto Rico, visit Bioluminescent Bay.

On sodium vapor lamps: this helpful entry on Wikipedia.


Special thanks to Hilary Domush for researching the show.

Our theme music is composed by Dave Kaufman. Additional music was provided by the Podsafe Music Network. The music for the Element of the Week is “Insomnia,” by Josh Woodward. After the feature the music is “Groovelt,” by Denis Kitchen. The music under the quotation is “The Number is Three,” by Matthew Hall.