Skip to main content

Why Light? Eugene Arthurs, SPIE CEO answers

We talk to SPIE CEO Eugene Arthurs in the second installment of our 'Why Light?' series. The series is leading up to the first International Day of Light, where we asked members of the SPIE community to explain why they feel light is so important.

The inaugural International Day of Light – IDL – will take place 16 May 2018. IDL is a global initiative that provides an annual focal point for the continued appreciation of light. This day recognizes light and the vital role it plays in science, culture and art, education, and sustainable development.

On 16 May, join SPIE and communities worldwide by participating in activities that illustrate how the science and art of light improves all our lives. For more information and to plan your own event, visit

SPIE CEO Eugene Arthurs at the UNESCO IYL CelebrationMeet SPIE CEO Eugene Arthurs,
Steering Committee Member of IDL 2018

What about light inspires you?

There are multiple aspects to my delight in light. I am using words deliberately to highlight the positive visceral connotations we humans have with light, welcoming dawns and springs, the Celtic Beltane, as the returns of light. Being from Ireland I also grew up aware of the promise or covenant of the frequent beautiful rainbows. Perhaps those natural artworks were why the beauty of laser light drew me into this field. On the more pragmatic side, knowing we are here only because of light, learning how it sets our rhythms, seeing the many applications and the potential we still have to use light to improve lives across the world continues to inspire me, and will until I have to “rage against the dying of the light”.

How can light help overcome a current global challenge?

The simplest answer is the use of new light to provide energy for humanity. This will reduce the burden we are putting on our planet by using “stored light” as our main energy source, and I believe offers a chance for more energy equity. Energy from new light also can provide water from our oceans and allow us to develop new food sources.

What do you do to share your passion for light?

I have had the privilege of being part of SPIE for most of my life, and so been steeped in a community sharing a passion for using light in so many ways. My role has allowed me to speak to many different audiences across the world and I hope my deeply held passion for light has been the constant theme in my presentations.


Popular posts from this blog

Changing life as we know it: the Internet of Things and cyber-physical sensing

More than 20 billion Internet of Things (IoT) devices are expected to be deployed within the next few years; by 2025, this number may reach as much as 1 trillion connected devices. Driven by growth in cloud computing, mobile communications, networks of data-gathering actuators and sensors, and artificial intelligence with machine learning, this trend will change how we live our lives.
Already we live among connected devices in our homes.

Increasingly, we will also wear them, drive them, and monitor our health via the IoT. More businesses will build, ship, and design products and manage inventory with connected devices. In our cities, transportation, communications, and security infrastructure, and services such as water distribution and energy management will employ IoT applications. Farmers will find many uses, from insuring the health of livestock to increasing crop productivity.
Several conferences scheduled for SPIE Defense + Commercial Sensing 2018 (15 through 19 April in Orland…

Hyperspectral imaging: defense technology transfers into commercial applications

Hyperspectral imaging, like many other of today's technologies, is moving into numerous commercial markets after developing and maturing in the defense sector. While still having a strong presence in defense applications, the technology is now used in chemical detection, food quality assurance and inspection, vegetation monitoring, and plant phenotyping, among others.
For more than 20 years, advances in spectral imaging have been on display at SPIE Defense + Commercial Sensing (DCS). The applications and capabilities of the technology have grown along with the conferences and exhibition at SPIE DCS.
The ability to see more than what is visible to the human eye has always been one of the goals of optical engineers. With hyperspectral imaging they have been able to achieve just that. By accessing the entire electromagnetic spectrum, the sensors are able to image a specific wavelength range, or spectral band, and combine images of multiple bands into one 3D scene.
Through analysis,…

Glass ceiling, sticky floor: countering unconscious bias in photonics

Who knew … until last year: Three African-American women working — in obscurity — for NASA as mathematicians played a vital role in the mission that sent astronaut John Glenn into orbit around Earth and brought him back again, in 1962.
Publication of Margot Lee Shetterly's book Hidden Figures and the subsequent release of the acclaimed 2016 film brought the story of the important roles played by Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson to light for the first time for many.
While their story may have been little known for decades, struggles for opportunity and inclusion are familiar to many women and to members of under-represented minorities or other groups working to make a career in a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) field.
Findings on gender equity from the latest SPIE Optics and Photonics Global Salary report indicate that women in the field lag behind men in salary and in representation in management and senior academic positions.
The cost…