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The historical cost of light

How difficult was it to obtain artificial light before the 19th century? Well...

Time worked


Hours Minutes Seconds

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We often forget how much artificial light influences our lives.

Before modern lighting, we used to go to sleep when night arrived, waking briefly for an hour or two in deep into the night before retiring again until the morning.

Today, darkness poses no constraint: one can finish work in the evening, cook dinner, and still have hours more to read, or study, or watch television.

But light was not always so easy to procure. It is, in fact, astounding how little effort an hour’s worth of light costs us.

Let’s try working for your light.

Each pixel you scroll through is equivalent to a second of work for an average waged worker in America. Let’s see how long it takes you to afford an hour’s worth of light in 2020.