The classical Greek philosopher Socrates believed the ideal house should be warm in winter and cool in summer. With clarity of thought like that, it’s easy to see how the great man got his reputation.

At the time, such a desire was easier to state than to achieve, yet many pre-modern civilisations designed buildings to capture sunlight from the low-hanging winter sun, while maximising shade in the summer.

All very elegant but that’s not the sort of solar power that will run a modern industrial economy. And millennia went by without much progress.

A Golden Thread, a history of our relationship with the sun published in 1980, celebrates clever uses of solar architecture and technology across the centuries, and urged modern economies wracked by the

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