Skip to main content

'At the origin of all life': UNESCO backs International Year of Light!

"Light is at the origin of all of life," proponents of the declaration of 2015 as the International Year of Light (IYOL) told the UNESCO Executive Board last week.

The board agreed at its meeting in Paris, giving its enthusiastic support to an international effort to recognize optics and photonics technologies through a year-long observance in 2015.

Rainbow photo
The rainbow is expected to be the symbol for
the International Year of Light.
Although a final declaration by the UN General Assembly is not quite a done deal, the UNESCO support paves the way for a large-scale effort to raise awareness of the essential role light-based technologies play in driving industry and enhancing life.

Why is awareness so important?.

"The science and technology of light have revolutionized medicine, have opened up international communication via the Internet, and are central to linking cultural, economic and political aspects of global society," SPIE Fellow Paul Buah-Bassuah of Ghana’s Laser and Fibre Optics Centre at University of Cape Coast told the UNESCO board. Representatives from Mexico, the Russian Federation, and New Zealand also participated in the presentation.

Further, Buah-Bassuah, said "Industries based on light are major economic drivers; they create jobs, and provide solutions to global challenges in energy, education, agriculture and health. Light is also important to our appreciation of art, and optical technologies are essential in understanding and preserving cultural heritage.".

Looking forward, photonics technologies are crucial for enabling sustainable development and addressing climate change, he stressed.

SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, and more than 40 scientific societies and institutions under the leadership of the European and African Physical Societies have been pushing for the initiative since 2009.

The activities of the IYOL will be coordinated by an International Steering Committee which will ensure effective action at both national and international levels.

"Through this action, UNESCO has joined in advocacy of the profound importance of light in every facet of life," said SPIE Executive Director Eugene Arthurs, who serves on the international advisory board for the IYOL Steering Committee. SPIE is continually working to raise awareness of photonics technology, he said, especially the many high-value jobs it creates and its numerous applications that have and will solve pressing problems in communications, healthcare, food and water source management, and other vital areas.

As examples, Arthurs cited inexpensive solar-powered solid-state lighting that has replaced toxic kerosene for indoor use in some developing regions and remote-sensing instruments that can track crop health, major storms, and underground water sources from space.

EPS President-Elect John Dudley
(above, speaking at SPIE
Photonics Europe last April)
serves as secretary of the IYOL
Steering Committee.
European Physical Society President-Elect John Dudley, an SPIE member, professor at Université de Franche-Comté, and secretary of the IYOL Steering Committee, said that the 2015 program would go beyond the celebratory nature of the 2010 Laserfest events that marked the 50th anniversary of the laser. One of the key goals, Dudley said, is to address the fact that despite the widespread influence of these essential optical technologies, they remained little understood or appreciated outside of the photonics field.

Want to get involved as a partner? Check out the prospectus for contact information.

Help ensure increased awareness around the world of the value of light-based technologies in meeting the needs of humankind.


Popular posts from this blog

#FacesofPhotonics: Inspired

Guest blogger: Emily Power is a Winter Quarter graduate in communications from Western Washington University, and most recently social media intern for SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics. She is blogging on responses to the SPIE #FacesofPhotonics campaign, to share the stories of SPIE students around the globe.
It is a commonly known fact: students are the future. Around the world, students with ideas, opinions, and innovative minds are preparing for their opportunities to conceptualize and create the next advances for the ever-changing world in which we live.
In the field of optics and photonics, students are making a difference even now, sharing their work and building their networks through conferences such as SPIE Photonics West, coming up next month in San Francisco.
The SPIE campaign #FacesofPhotonics was developed as a showcase across social media to connect students from SPIE Student Chapters around the world, highlighting similarities, celebrating differ…

Grilling robot takes over backyard barbecue

Photonics has already made profound contributions to such areas as medicine, energy, and communications to make our everyday lives more efficient. (Hence the name of this blog.) People in all walks of life benefit from the incorporation of photonics technologies. We look forward to future advancements when the technology may help find a cure for cancer, monitor and prevent climate change, and pave the way to other advancements we can’t even visualize yet.
But here’s a photonics-based invention -- already demonstrated – that breaks ground in a new area: the backyard barbecue. Talk about hot fun in the summertime!
The BratWurst Bot made its appearance at the Stallwächter-Party of the Baden-Württemberg State Representation in Berlin. It’s made of off-the-shelf robotic components such as the lightweight Universal Robots arm UR-10, a standard parallel gripper (Schunk PG-70) and standard grill tongs. A tablet-based chef’s face interacted with party guests.
Two RGB cameras and a segmentatio…

UPDATE! Gravitational waves ... detected!

Update, 11 February: A hundred years after Einstein predicted them, gravitational waves from a cataclysmic event a billion years ago have been observed.
For the first time, scientists have observed gravitational waves, ripples in the fabric of spacetime arriving at Earth from a cataclysmic event in the distant universe. This confirms a major prediction of Albert Einstein's 1915 general theory of relativity and opens an unprecedented new window to the cosmos.
The discovery was announced on 11 February at a press conference in Washington, DC, hosted by the National Science Foundation, the primary funder of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO).
The gravitational waves were produced during the final fraction of a second of the merger of two black holes to produce a single, more massive spinning black hole. This collision of two black holes had been predicted but never observed.
The event took place on 14 September 2015 at 5:51 a.m. EDT (09:51 UTC) by both of…