The Weight of Light: A Collection of Solar Futures
The Weight of Light: A Collection of Solar Futures is about “exploring human futures powered by solar energy,” and is part of a broader publishing program from the University’s Center for Science and the Imagination, which has released similar anthologies about optimistic futures in space and climate change since 2011. The Weight of Light is free to download in ePub, HTML, iBook, and Mobi formats from the Center’s site.
This collection was inspired by a simple question: what would a world powered entirely by solar energy look like? In part, this question is about the materiality of solar energy—about where people will choose to put all the solar panels needed to power the global economy. It’s also about how people will rearrange their lives, values, relationships, markets, and politics around photovoltaic technologies. The political theorist and historian Timothy Mitchell argues that our current societies are carbon democracies, societies wrapped around the technologies, systems, and logics of oil. What will it be like, instead, to live in the photon societies of the future?
Their goal for this project is to reveal the richness and diversity within the arena of futures built upon the promise of clean, plentiful energy. The transition to solar and other clean renewable sources isn’t just a light switch that we can flip; it will be messy, and it will involve consequential decisions about design, structure, democratic process, the character of the relationship between humans and the environment, and much more. In this collection, they aim to depict these multifarious solar futures, and the choices that shape them, as exciting spaces for imagination, exploration, deliberation, debate, and even a dash of adventure.