How the Sun Controls Nature

Light is without doubt one of the greatest limitations and controls of life, and the greatest source is the Sun. For billions of years, this has influenced the way in which animals have evolved and adapted to their surroundings. As well as this, in the Sun’s absence, animals must come up with ingenious tactics in order to survive. For instance, during the night and in deep-sea environments, a lack of sunlight controls the way life behaves. Lions and other big cats for instance have evolved to hunt best in total darkness and are far more dangerous with no light.

On the other end of the spectrum, animals such as reptiles and birds can be totally dependent on the Sun. Snakes, for example need to warm-up in the Sun as they are ectotherms, and are unable to function properly when their bodies are cold. The Sun can also be used for migration, both in the sea and on the land. It therefore controls nature both directly and indirectly, and moulds the way life functions around it. Have a look at our striking new infographic and see how your favourite animal’s evolution has been affected by the Sun!

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Cost Effective Ways to Make the Most of Your Garden This Summer

We are now well into the summer months, not that you would be able to tell here in the UK, and with warmer weather hopefully reaching us soon we are all going to want to be heading out into the great outdoors to enjoy the fresh air, warm sunshine and the serenity of our own back gardens.

Looking after your garden during summer can be an expensive task – there are plants to water, lawns to upkeep and of course plenty of nuisance insects and bugs buzzing around. In order to help save you time and money, we have compiled a list of useful tips suggesting ways in which you can make the most of your garden this summer

1. Avoid your hose pipe but still water everything

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For every ten minutes that the average hosepipe is turned on approximately 170 litres of water is used. That figure equates to almost 19 flushes of a toilet in the same amount of time. In just one hour, a hosepipe turned out will use the same amount of water a whole family is estimated to use in two days. This all adds up and if you plan to keep your garden hydrated throughout the summer with your hosepipe, you will be met with a hefty water bill! However, that does not mean that you can’t water your plants and flowers, but instead that you should use water sparingly and look for other ways of supplying your garden’s demand for water.

  • Both your lawn and plants are better off when you water them with a watering can – the end of the can produces smaller droplets which sink into the ground more easily.
  • Invest in, or make, your own water butt which you can use to collect rainwater in your garden.
  • Reuse cooking water, bath water or even fish tank water rather than tipping it down the sink or letting it drain down the plughole. The water is full of nutrients and helps to fertilise your plants.
  • To keep in the moisture in and the sun off the soil you should also add a layer of mulch– this can be a layer of tree bark, compost of coconut husks or even ground up corks!

2. Use a compost system

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Another way to keep your plants looking healthy and to save water in your garden is to keep them fertilised in nutrient-rich soil. Whilst you can buy compost from plenty of stores, it is far more cost effective to make your own compost. You don’t even have to buy a compost bin – purely convert an old dustbin by drilling some holes in the side and base and cover with the lid. Once it is set up you can start collecting food waste from the kitchen or garden.

  • To get the most out of your homemade compost and to cut your soil costs in half, you should consider mixing it together with soil. You could also add in extra discards such as coffee grounds.

3. Evening lighting

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Outdoor lighting helps to add a lot of character to your garden, whatever size it may be, and also means that you can sit outside for longer during the warmer evenings. There is a huge selection of garden lights, from battery powered lights to more cost effective and environmentally friendly solar powered lights. With everything from spotlights to lanterns and rope lights, there is something to suit everyone and many can be staked into the ground (great and easy for those who don’t like DIY).

  • To brighten up your garden, you could consider draping overhead spaces with fairy lights, lining your borders with rope lighting, or emphasising particular features of your garden with spotlights. Alternatively, you could also use tea lights inside of old jars.

4. Insect repellent techniques

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Nothing spoils a summer evening more than being bitten by a variety of nasty insects. Rather than covering yourself in a whole host of chemicals, there are plenty of natural and cost effective ways to keep bugs at bay.

  • Mosquitoes in particular do not like the smell of several herbs including lemongrass, rosemary, marigold and mint – so by planting a combination of these in your garden will help to repel mosquitoes.
  • If someone happens to be allergic to bee, wasp or hornet stings, you need an effective way of dealing with them without using chemicals. Fill an old plastic milk bottle with sweet sugar water and cut a small slit into its side – the insects will then not be able to escape but can be released once it is safe.

5. Grow your own

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Most people will find the thought of growing their own vegetables overwhelming but growing your own is in fact far simpler and less time consuming than you would think. Plus, for anybody who thinks a vegetable patch requires lots of space – think again. You really only need a few feet of land, or a few large pots, a source of water and a bit of time. Not only will this save you money on your grocery shop but you will also feel a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction when you can pick you own fresh fruit and veg straight from your garden.

  • If you are a ‘grow your own’ novice, lettuce is an easy vegetable to start with and can even be grown in a window box if you are short on garden space. For those with a bit more experience or confidence, you could consider growing tomato plants, which need a fair bit of nurturing in their first few months, chard, or perhaps if you have a little more space, courgettes.

6. Choose perennials over annuals

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Adding colour to your garden can easily be done by planting up your borders. Many people chose to change the plants in their borders each and every season but the secret to a cost effective garden is to choose flowers that will come up every year. A perennial flower garden will result in an eventual low cost and upkeep back garden!

20 Ways The Sun Benefits Our Health

There are more benefits of the Sun than just providing us with power and energy. The UV light that is emitted in the sun’s rays prompts the production of Vitamin D in our body which has a whole host of healing effects. UV light is just one of eight frequencies of light – including infrared and the seven spectrums of visible light – each of which has its own unique healing power and subsequent benefits.

We live in a world where we are constantly hearing about how dangerous the sun is. Whilst over exposure can, of course, lead to all sorts of dangerous complications, the right amount can have plenty of benefits for our body and our mind.

Studies have shown that a moderate amount of sunshine on your body can reduce your risk of several diseases and can do wonders for your mental health. So with summer on its way, take a look at our latest infographic below to find out how the Sun can benefit our health.

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Real Sun Worshippers: Solar Deities Through History

For as long as humans have existed on this Earth, their various civilisations have developed religious beliefs surrounding the importance of the Sun. As time has passed, some of these early ideas have developed and established themselves into cultures of todays.

A number of religions and ethnic groups not only see significant in the sun itself but worship their own solar deities, or gods and goddess, who represent the Sun, or one of its features for example it’s strength, warmth and power.

Our infographic below looks at a variety of different solar deities, from the ancient Greek Sun God Helios who rode through the skies in his horse-led chariot to Aztec Huitzilopochtli, a fearsome blue warrior who wore hummingbird feathers on his head. How many of these sun gods and goddess have you heard of before?

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The Fastest Things in the World

Our latest infographic looks at some of the fastest things in the world – from outrageously fast cars, including the Bugatti Veyron SuperSport and the unofficial record holder the Hennessey Venom GT. As well as the rapid descent down the Insano waterslide in Brazil where you’ll travel forty one metres in less than five seconds, and the superfast JR Maglev train which races through the Japanese countryside at a grand speed of 373km per hour – faster even that the aptly named Shinkansen ‘bullet train’.

Whilst not everything on our list hits mind-boggling speeds, some are included as they are the fastest in their field, for example the Soviet submarine K-222 and of course the Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, who is regarded as the fastest person ever timed.

At approximately 670 million mph, it is light (primarily from the Sun) that is undoubtedly the fastest thing in the world. Responsible for the human eye’s sense of sight, it allows us to fully enjoy the world around us – whether we are experiencing life at super speeds or not. Take a look at the infographic below to discover just how many times you could circumnavigate the globe in a second if you could travel at the speed of light!fastest-things-in-the-world

Ceremonial Use of Lights Around the World

From candles, to oil lamps, lanterns and even fire, light is widely used in all sorts of ceremonies and rituals around the world. Light carries several symbolic meanings for a number of religions and represents joy, hope and life-giving power. Whilst the use of light is common to each of the ceremonies regardless of their geographical location or differing religions, the ceremonies origins themselves and their respective symbolic meanings greatly differ.

Our latest infographic looks at variety of ceremonies – from Lampadedromia the ancient Greek ceremony to honour the Gods which has now been transformed and incorporated into the Olympic Torch Race, to the well-known Hindu Diwali and slightly closer to home, the popularly celebrated Guy Fawkes Night in the UK.

Have you experience any of these beautiful ceremonies? Or, if you haven’t seen any, which would be at the top of your bucket-list?

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Eureka: Incredible Solar Powered Inventions

Solar power is an important source of renewable energy that can be used to fuel a multitude of items, including our lights.  Over recent years solar power has become an increasingly popular source of energy and has been at the forefront of some rather interesting inventions. Nowadays, scientists and manufacturers are beginning to harness the sun’s energy and using it to power all sorts of wonderful creations, including wheelchairs, cars and hearing aids.

Have you ever been out when your phone has died and you desperately need to charge it? Well there’s now a solar plug socket so that you can charge your phone wherever you are, without the need for electricity. After all, solar energy is the power of the future, and so it’s about time that our normal day-to-day electricity powered items started to use cleaner solar energy. Our new infographic explores the most incredible inventions that run on solar energy, including homeless shelters and ferries; take a look below!

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Where to Find Sun All Year Round

At this time of year many of us find ourselves day dreaming about sunnier weather. Right about now it feels like it’s been winter forever and that there’s no end in sight. But while the U.K. might be in the midst of a cold snap, there are plenty of places around the world where the sun is beaming and the temperatures are well into double figures!

Our latest infographic explores the sunniest destinations around the world, all of which have upward of six hours of sunshine a day on average. Whether you’re looking for a bit of sunshine in Europe or further away, it’s possible to get on a plane and find destinations that experience sunshine practically all year round.  From Malta which sees 300 days of good weather a year and over 2095 hours of sunshine in 2015, to Florida which averages 260 full days of sunshine a year, there’s a location for everyone. Which of the destinations below would you like to visit for all year round sunshine?

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20 Seriously Strange Things You Can Find in Space

When we look up at the sky it can be hard to comprehend that there’s a whole universe out there, consisting of much more than just planets and stars. Have you ever wondered what else is out there? No, we’re not talking E.T… As well as the aforementioned planets and stars, space is home to a wide range of weird and wonderful objects and phenomena.

Our latest infographic explores the strangest things you can find in space; including Lego, copper needles, a rain cloud and a photograph of an astronaut’s family. Take a look at the infographic below and discover a whole host of strange objects that are out of this world!

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The World’s Most Dazzling Christmas Lights

It’s coming to that time of the year again… Christmas! Yes, the decorations are coming out, the children are writing their letters to Father Christmas, and the turkeys are being ordered. There are so many iconic parts to Christmas, but one of the most important has to be the Christmas lights. Whether they’re decorating trees in homes, or houses themselves, they always seem to add that final touch to the Christmassy feel.

All over the world, people flock to big cities in order to see the famous Christmas lights that are on display in their country. Not only are they always spectacular to see, but it’s a special way of gathering people together to get them into the Christmas spirit. Our latest infographic showcases how different countries decorate their famous cities, highlighting how each country has their own unique way of presenting their Christmas lights.

How many have you seen? Or, if you haven’t seen any, which would be your favourite one to go and visit? Oh, and Happy Christmas from us here at The Solar Centre!

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