Say what? Who's that dead body in the mirror?

Have you ever looked at yourself in the hotel bathroom mirror and thought, "God, I look ghastly. How late did I stay out? Did I sleep in my clothes?"

It turns out that the problem may not be completely associated with the previous evening's hijinks. Hotel bathrooms use fluorescent lights, said Gary Hogsett, an engineer with Burns and McDonnell Engineering. Fluorescent bulbs have phosphors in them that highlight the green and yellow parts of the spectrum, but very little red comes through. This changes how you perceive the tones in the mirror's reflection.

"So that's why in a hotel room you see yourself shaving and you look like a cadaver," he said to an audience at the Power-Gen conference taking place this week in Las Vegas. A great bit of advice, considering the setting.

Hogsett is an advocate of hybrid lighting, which involves piping sunlight indoors through optical cables. Not only does it cut energy consumption (lighting uses 22 percent of the U.S. energy output according to the Department of Energy and is incredibly inefficient.

"It's sunlight in a hose," he said.

And that makes two snappy quotes for the former state engineer of Kansas.

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About the author

    Michael Kanellos is editor at large at CNET News.com, where he covers hardware, research and development, start-ups and the tech industry overseas.

     

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