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The Light Mill: A Scientific Tool to Catch and Reflect Garden Light

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The Light Mill: A Scientific Tool to Catch and Reflect Garden Light

January 9, 2017

In Michelle’s Mill Valley garden, she integrates bits of light catchers, clear glass objects to catch the sun and act as a mirror, reflecting light throughout the landscape. (You can see her garden in the recent Gardenista book.) When we came across the Crookes radiometer, also known as a light mill, at Garden Objects in New Zealand, we thought this too could be a light catcher, in addition to measuring the amount of it.

Light Mill from Garden Objects

Above: The light mill was invented in 1873 by Victorian chemist Sir William Crookes while studying electromagnetic radiation intensity. The mill is an airtight glass bulb with a partial vacuum and set of four metallic vanes on a single spindle. When exposed to sunlight, artificial light, or infrared radiation, the vanes rotate at a speed that corresponds to the level of radiation intensity.

Light Mill from Garden Objects

Above: The Light Mill ($85 NZD, $60 USD) is usually seen in physics labs as a teaching tool but we like the idea of keeping it in a sunroom, conservatory, or on an outdoor table. We’ve also sourced versions from Magic Cabin and Amazon.

radiometer-nevit-dilmen

Above: A radiometer at work; photograph by Nevit Dilmen via Creative Commons.

For more reflective objects, see our posts:

Product summary  

Thermometers & Rain Gauges

Light Mill

$85.00 NZD from Garden Objects

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