Light and Energy

Section Overview:

The amount of energy falling on the Earth's surface from the sun is approximately 5.6 billion (quintillion) megajoules per year. Averaged over the entire Earth's surface, this translates into about 5 kilowatt-hours per square meter every day. The energy input from the sun in a single day could supply the needs for all of the Earth's inhabitants for a period of about 3 decades. Obviously, there is no means conceivable (nor is it necessary) to harness all of the energy that is available; equally obvious is that capturing even a small fraction of the available energy in a useable form would be of enormous value.

Review Articles

Interactive Tutorials

Contributing Authors

Kenneth R. Spring - Scientific Consultant, Lusby, Maryland, 20657.

Mortimer Abramowitz - Olympus America, Inc., Two Corporate Center Drive., Melville, New York, 11747.

Matthew Parry-Hill, John C. Long, Kirill I. Tchourioukanov, Robert T. Sutter, Christopher A. Burdett, Thomas J. Fellers and Michael W. Davidson - National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, 1800 East Paul Dirac Dr., The Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida, 32310.