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Seeing Travel in a New Light

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New advances in light technology could change the way we travel. (Photograph by Colin Anderson, Corbis)

I consider travel an enlightening experience, but it never occurred to me that beams of light might change the way we travel. Recently, lighting scientists (yes, they exist) have dissected the specific wavelengths of electric light to better understand how they affect our bodies.

“Hotels will offer guest rooms with lights that help us to get over jet lag in a few hours instead of days, spas will introduce treatments using lights to strengthen and heal our immune systems, and airport ‘Light Lounges’ will use spectrums that promote mental alertness, to get work done, or relax the body for rest,” says Fred Maxik, the founder of Lighting Science, a company that is behind some of the recent discoveries.

There are good implications for the environment. This new lighting uses 80 percent less energy from fossil fuels than incandescent lights and is nontoxic.

Wildlife may reap benefits. Beach resorts with floodlights that have disoriented nesting sea turtles can install beams that enable nature lovers to see the turtles at night while tuning out harmful effects to the animals.

Like all brave new technology, there are some what-ifs to ponder. But the future looks bright.

This piece was written by Costas Christ and appeared in the April 2014 issue of National Geographic Traveler. Follow Costas’s travels on Twitter @CostasChrist.

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