Let It Shine – the 6000 Year Story of Solar Energy

Special Presentation & Book Signing by author John Perlin

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Sebastopol, CA – 7pm @ Sebastopol Grange

Santa Rosa, CA 12 pm  @ Santa Rosa Junior College



John Perlin, UC Santa Barbara physics researcher and author of “Let It Shine: The 6,000-Year Story of Solar Energy,” will talk about 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.

He will also show that over the last 3,000 years, people have used solar concentrators to focus sunlight in order to light fires, to solder metal during the Renaissance and to run steam engines in the 19th century. Furthermore, since the end of the 19th century, a solar water-heater industry developed and spread throughout the world, and 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 people successfully harnessed the sun’s energy years ago, can’t we, with a far superior tool kit, do better by using their work as our foundation?

About the Author – An international expert on solar energy and forestry, John Perlin has lectured extensively in North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. Perlin is the author of A Forest Journey: The Story of Wood and Civilization as well as From Space to Earth: Th e Story of Solar Electricity.

Preorder a copy of the Book and save 10%.
Save $,  support Analy Earth & Solar Schoolhouse, and secure your copy of the book.  Pick up at t
he event.  Book description and reviews below.

Location: Sebastopol Grange,
6000 Sebastopol Ave, Hwy 12, Sebastopol, CA

Date: Wednesday, March 11th, 2015    Time: 7-8:30 pm

Cost: $5 (General Admission), $2 (Student)   Proceeds support Analy Earth  and Solar Schoolhouse.

Contact: info@rahus.org or 707-829-3154

Sponsored by The Rahus Institute, Solar Schoolhouse, Sebastopol Grange, Analy Earth
350Sonoma, Transition Sebastopol Energy Group


Daytime Location:  SRJC’s Environmental Forum,
Newman Auditorium, Emeritus #1564, Santa Rosa Junior College, 1501 Mendocino Avenue

Date:  3/11/15  Time:  12 – 1:15 p.m.  Free and open to the public (a parking permit is required to park on campus), no rsvp necessary



AnalyEarthLogo3About Analy Earth – Analy Earth supports environmental educational activities at Analy High School. Examples include the AP Environmental Science and EcoAction classes.

About Solar Schoolhouse – A program of Sebastopol-based The Rahus Institute, the Solar Schoolhouse program provides curriculum, educational kits, and professional development for teachers wishing to integrate solar energy activities into their classrooms.



ch21_01lowresEven as concern over climate change and energy security fuel a boom in solar technology, many still think of solar as a twentiethcentury wonder. Few realize that the first photovoltaic array appeared on a New York City rooftop in 1884, or that brilliant engineers in France were using solar power in the 1860s to run steam engines, or that in 1901 an ostrich farmer in Southern California used a single solar engine to irrigate three hundred acres of citrus trees. Fewer still know that during the Renaissance Galileo and his contemporaries planned the construction of sun-focusing mirrors as the ultimate weapon
to burn enemy fleets and towns, that Leonardo da Vinci planned to make his fortune by building half-mile-long mirrors to heat water, or that the Bronze Age Chinese used handsized solar-concentrating mirrors to light fires the way we use matches and lighters today. In this definitive history of solar technology, John Perlin tells a story that goes back more than six thousand years to when the Stone Age Chinese built their homes to make maximum use of the sun’s energy in winter. The book profiles the fascinating characters who made the solar revolution possible, revealing a group of unknown pioneers, like Gustav Vorherr, who opened up the first school of solar architecture in the 1820s, as well as solar advocates known for other accomplishments,
such as Socrates, who 2,500 years ago gave a detailed discourse on designing passive solar homes.

With thirteen new chapters, Let It Shine is a fully revised and expanded edition of A Golden Thread, Perlin’s classic history of solar technology, detailing the past forty years of technological developments driving today’s solar renaissance. This unique and compelling compendium of humankind’s solar ideas tells the fascinating story of how our predecessors throughout time, again and again, have applied the sun to better their lives — and how we can too.

REVIEWS of “Let it Shine”

Let It Shine is the solar bible. Thank you, John Perlin!”
— Lester Brown, president of the Earth Policy Institute


John Perlin is the historian of solar energy. He now takes the history back thousands of years to early Chinese architecture and the yang-sui, the little bronze mirrors boys used to start the family fire, to nineteenth-century inventors who feared that coal supplies were about to run out, to modern passive solar buildings and today’s falling costs and growing use of photovoltaics. He does all this with a penchant for the diverse characters along the journey and with remarkable illustrations that vividly capture the six-thousand-year story of solar energy.”
— Daniel Yergin, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Quest: Energy, Security, and the
Remaking of the Modern World and The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money, and Power

With remarkable depth, breadth, and precision, John Perlin lays out humankind’s long reliance on the sun before the carbon era and points the way to a healthy, comfortable, productive, resilient solar-powered world. There is more intelligence and common sense in this volume than in all the federal reports on energy of the last quarter-century combined.
— Denis Hayes, former director of the federal Solar Energy Research Institute and founder of the Earth Day Network

The authoritative background story behind the worldwide solar revolution, Let It Shine is a story of human ingenuity and perseverance told with clarity and depth. The next chapter is ours to write.”
— David W. Orr, professor of environmental studies and politics at Oberlin College and author of Down to the Wire: Confronting Climate Collapse

Let It Shine makes it abundantly clear that solar energy has a long and glorious past — a prologue, in fact — that is as bright and diverse as its future will be. Far from being a disruption of the current energy economy, solar power can be harnessed in thousands of ways, making it easy to embrace and integrate into our future, as this book brilliantly demonstrates.
— Daniel M. Kammen, distinguished professor of energy at the University of California, Berkeley

Let It Shine shows how today’s renewable revolution builds on the tenacious efforts of countless generations of innovators whose vision we may finally be privileged enough to bring to full flower.
— from the foreword by Amory B. Lovins, cofounder and chief scientist of the Rocky Mountain Institute

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