Thursday, August 17, 2017

Sensory Word of the Week

According to, luminescent is a word that describes something that emits "light by a substance that has not been heated." defines luminescence as "a soft glowing light" or "any cold light." Luminescence is brought on by a number of different processes, including electricity, biology, and chemistry, all taking place at relatively low temperatures. The word is derived from the Latin root lumen, meaning "light." 

A couple weeks ago, I visited the Missouri Botanical Garden at night to see a luminescent display of art in the Climatron, the Garden's vast iconic dome greenhouse. Garden of Glass was an exhibit of larger-than-life fused glass sculptures created by Craig Mitchell Smith. Walking through the lush Climatron that evening felt a little like a scene from a tropical glow-in-the-dark version of Alice in Wonderland, walking through the giant flowers. The glass sculptures embodied blooms of all shapes and sizes, monarch butterflies, dragonflies, birds' nests, trees, cacti, smoke, and even a waterfall. Glowing hues from every shade of the rainbow were illuminated.

The displays were imaginative and exciting, but also there was a sense of serenity and mystery throughout the garden at night. It was so dark that only shadows of the natural vegetation could be seen. Many of the luminescent sculptures slowly changed from one vibrant hue to another. The warm humid air of the Climatron enveloped visitors, with only a cool breeze under the ledge where rushing water falls into a pool. The musky sweet scents of tropical plants permeated the space.

Several words are related to luminescence, and I'll explore some of them next week on the blog as I continue this mini-series of escent or esence-ended words that describe unique sensory experiences or abilities. For now, what awe-inspiring examples of luminescence have you experienced?

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