Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Brain and the Midnight Sun

Most brains enjoy variety and the unusual. Mine certainly does. Growing up I read stories about the “land of the midnight sun” and thought how much fun it would be to visit one of those places. It finally happened! My first trip to Iceland in 2010 was eventful as the volcano decided to erupt during my visit, interfering with all airline flights in and out of the country. But it was winter and the days were short. This time I went in June. At the end of my presentations, my friend Unnur and I decided to do a two-day road trip. We started driving right after my last lecture finished at 10pm—although you would have had no idea it was that late at night unless you actually looked at your watch—and headed north. And nearly on the stroke of 12, rounding the edge of a mountain, there it was right in front of us: the “midnight sun” in all its bright blood-red glory. Hanging just above the horizon we watched it drop until half of it was hidden and there it stayed. As we continued to drive we continued to catch glimpses of the sun. As the clouds shifted and as the contours of the landscape changed, we watched it seemingly roll along the horizon. Sometime after 2:00am it began an assent into the sky, gradually changing from fiery red to shimmering gold. My brain was so enthralled it forgot to be tired. When we finally went to bed about 3:30am, I fell asleep immediately. My brain played and replayed the pictures in dreams. Soon after returning home I heard about a photographer who had shot a short video of the midnight sun and the way it highlighted the already colorful Icelandic landscape. Have a look at his land of the midnight sun. I loved it in person and in his pictures!


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