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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.


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