Tuesday November 29, 2005

Don't Be SAD

With winter comes a period of more earlier and longer darkness and much less sun. Less sun leads to depression for many people; the syndrome is called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

In some places, such as Finland, it simply gets dark everywhere for miles around. In other places, such as the Tyrol region of the Alps, the sun can be shining a mile or so away!

The sun has stopped shining in Rattenberg. But with the aid of a few mirrors, the winter darkness that grips this small town could soon be brightened up with pockets of sunshine.

Rattenberg was built between the hill [910m Rat Mountain] to the south and the Inn River to the north starting in the 1300s for protection against marauders. Back then, lack of sunshine was a small price to pay for relative security.

But as such dangers diminished, dozens more settlements sprang up. Some, like Kramsach, are just half a mile away and all enjoy a few hours of sun on a clear winter's day.

[Mirrors shed light as winter grips small town]

Now an Austrian company, Bartenbach Lichtlabor GmbH, plans to install 30 heliostats — "rotating mirrors, mounted on a hillside to grab sunshine off reflectors from the neighbouring village of Kramsach" — to bring spots of sunlight into Rattenberg.

It would be prohibitively expensive to bathe the entire town in sunlight. Instead, Lichtlabor plans to create about a dozen "hotspots" — "areas not much bigger than a front yard scattered through the town, where townspeople can gather and soak up rays."

In turn, the town hopes to save itself. The population of Rattenberg has been steadily declining in the past twenty years. Four years ago, half of those polled listed lack of winter sunlight as their biggest disadvantage.

I can understand how they feel. I wish them well in this experiment.

Don't Be SAD ( in category News & Information ) - posted at Tue, 29 Nov, 19:40 Pacific | Comments (0)