Building the World

March 2, 2016
by buildingtheworld

Let there be (f)light

“Icarus” by Blondel, Rotunda of Apollo, Louvre Museum. Image: wikimedia commons.

Icarus would be impressed. The Greek hero is famous for flying too close to the sun, but light and flight may now combine to improve the environment. Airports and runways are, by definition, open fields that prove ideal for solar power. Chochin, India is the site of the world’s first solar-powered airport. Welcoming 1,000 flights per day, the facility cost $9.5m to build, and benefits the environment as much as planting 3m trees. Prime Minister Narenda Modi announced a national goal of generating 100,000 megawatts by 2022; most parts of the land of the Taj Mahal receive 300 days of sunshine per year. The “Cochin” model is the first, but not the last: Africa has opened a solar-powered airport. Space solar power, pioneered by Peter Glaser, along with breakthrough technologies including nuclear fusion, may be on the agenda of energy change, advocated by the Breakthrough Energy Coalition announced in Paris at COP21 by Bill Gates. As NASA designs the new supersonic airplane to replace the Concorde, will new airfields be solar?

Menon, Supriya. “How is the world’s first solar powered airport faring?” 9 October 2015. BBC News.

“George Airport in South Africa is Africa’s First and Only Regional Solar-Powered Airport.” 29 February 2016.

Breakthrough Energy Coalition:

Sustainable Solutions Lab at UMass Boston:

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

November 26, 2013
by buildingtheworld

Benghazi: ancient city, modern future?

Flag of Libya. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Benghazi was one of five cities, the Pentapolis, of Cyrene, known for achievements in science, art, and culture. Founded in 630 BCE by Therans migrating from drought-plagued Santorini, who may have been among the first climate refugees, Cyrene extended Greek culture to Libya. Measurement of the earth’s circumference, mechanics of doubling a cube, early ideas about prime numbers, a timeline of world history — all these advances in knowledge originated in Cyrenaica. Astronomers drew the first map of the stars, tallied at 675 at the time. Second largest in Libya, the city has had many names: Berenice, Hesperides, Euesperides, Barneeq, Marsa ibn Ghazi, and finally Benghazi. Can modern day Libya, and specifically Benghazi, take inspiration from Cyrene’s impressive history? Will the land that produced Eratosthenes and Apollonia give the world another great scientist or poet?

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

December 25, 2012
by zoequinn001

Herotodus and Cyrene

Herodotus, from The University of Adelaide, at

Herotodus was arguably the first historian. His only work, The Histories provide accounts of sixth and fifth century BCE life in his homeland (modern Turkey, under Greek rule at the time), as well as places he visited.  In total there are nine books, but book six has some interesting discussion of the founding of the city of Cyrene: “Grinus (they say), the son of Aesanius, a descendant of Theras, and king of the island of Thera, went to Delphi to offer a hecatomb on behalf of his native city. On Grinus consulting the oracle about sundry matters, the Pythoness gave him for answer, “that he should found a city in Libya.” When the embassy returned to Thera, small account was taken of the oracle, as the Therans were quite ignorant where Libya was. Seven years passed from the utterance of the oracle, and not a drop of rain fell in Thera: all the trees in the island, except one, were killed with the drought. After a while, everything began to go wrong. Ignorant of the cause of their sufferings, they again sent to Delphi to inquire for what reason they were afflicted. The Pythoness in reply reminded them reproachfully “that if they and Battus would make a settlement at Cyrene in Libya, things would go better with them.”

For more of the translated work regarding Cyrene and more please visit:

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Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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