John Perlin Seminar: Let It Shine: The 6,000-Year Story of Solar Energy

John Perlin
Consultant, Departments of Physics & Student Affairs, UC Santa Barbara

Let It Shine: The 6,000-Year Story of Solar Energy

October 23, 2013 | 4:00pm | Bren Hall 1414
Faculty Host: David Auston

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I shall present a lecture on my new book, Let It Shine: The 6,000-Year Story of Solar Energy, which covers the development of all solar technologies, beginning with the ancient Chinese, Greeks and Romans who designed the majority of their houses to scoop up sunlight in winter. I will also show that over the last three thousand years people have used solar concentrators to focus sunlight to light fires, during the Renaissance, to solder metal, and by the nineteenth century, to run steam engines; that since the end of the nineteenth century, a solar water heater industry has developed and spread throughout the world; and that as far back as the 1870s, people learned how to convert sunlight directly into electricity. The myriad ways people have benefited from solar energy over the last six thousand years raises the question: If years ago people successfully harnessed the sun’s energy, can’t we, with a far superior tool kit, do better, using their work as our foundation? 

John Perlin

John Perlin has written four books on solar energy and forestry. He has put together four major exhibits 
on these subjects that have traveled throughout the world. His current book is Let It Shine: The 6,000 Year Story of Solar Energy. Mr. Perlin works at the University of California, Santa Barbara, Department of Physics and Student Affairs. He and his Nobel Laureate colleagues Drs. Walter Kohn and Alan Heeger produced the film, “The Power of the Sun,” a fifty-five minute presentation showing how Einstein’s discovery of the photon helped lead to the development of today’s booming photovoltaic industry. The film was inspired by his book, From Space to Earth.  Mr. Perlin also consults for Student Affairs in the implementation of solar energy/energy efficiency for its buildings. He has lectured on solar and forestry topics throughout the world. For details, go to his website at

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