02. Jan 2014 Ein internationales Jahr des LichtsAn International Year of Light -->

An International Year of Light

On 20 December 2013, The United Nations (UN) General Assembly 68th Session proclaimed 2015 as the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies (IYL 2015). This International Year has been the initiative of a large consortium of scientific bodies together with UNESCO, and will bring together many different stakeholders including scientific societies and unions, educational institutions, technology platforms, non-profit organizations and private sector partners. In proclaiming an International Year focusing on the topic of light science and its applications, the United Nations has recognized the importance of raising global awareness about how light-based technologies promote sustainable development and provide solutions to global challenges in energy, education, agriculture and health. Light plays a vital role in our daily lives and is an imperative cross-cutting discipline of science in the 21st century. It has revolutionized medicine, opened up international communication via the Internet, and continues to be central to linking cultural, economic and political aspects of the global society. As the Chairman of the IYL 2015 Steering Committee John Dudley explains: „An International Year of Light is a tremendous opportunity to ensure that international policymakers and stakeholders are made aware of the problem-solving potential of light technology. We now have a unique opportunity to raise global awareness of this.”

Mission
The International Year of Light is a global initiative which will highlight to the citizens of the world the importance of light and optical technologies in their lives, for their futures, and for the development of society. The International Year of Light will consist of coordinated activities on national, regional and international levels. Activities will be planned so that people of all ages and all backgrounds from all countries appreciate the central role of light in science and culture, and as a cross-cutting scientific discipline that can advance sustainable development.

Background
The International Year of Light project was initiated in 2010 and has since become a broad partnership supported by a large number of international societies and related organizations.

The project received endorsement from the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP) general assembly in November 2011 and has since received support from unions including IUPAB (Biophysics), IUTAM (Theoretical and Applied Mechanics), IUHPS (History and Philosophy of Science); IAU (Astronomy); ISPRS (Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing); URSI (Radio Science). The partnership includes organizations linked to UNESCO such as ICTP and SESAME (Synchrotron-light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East).

The project is now accompanied by the UNESCO International Basic Sciences Programme (IBSP) with a view to approaching the UNESCO Executive Board for endorsement. The society partners have extensive and successful track records in international outreach and joint ventures such as the 2005 International Year of Physics and long-term educational programmes in both developed and developing countries. The Partnership possesses the resources and experience to ensure tremendous impact and success for an International Year of Light.

Motivation
Light plays a central role in human activities. On the most fundamental level through photosynthesis, light is necessary to the existence of life itself, and the many applications of light have revolutionized society through medicine, communications, entertainment and culture. Industries based on light are major economic drivers, and light-based technologies directly respond to the needs of humankind by providing access to information, promoting sustainable development, and increasing societal health and well-being. As light becomes the key cross-cutting discipline of science and engineering in the 21st century, it is essential that the brightest young minds continue to be attracted into careers in this field.

All fields of science are based on the theories of light and its interaction with matter, and light is one of the main messengers in our understanding of the Universe and the subatomic world. The history of the study of light spans centuries, and has involved virtually all the major figures of science. And it was the 20th century that saw the birth of the modern theory of light, the invention and application of lasers, the widespread deployment of photonic devices to improve society, and the full appreciation of the fundamental place that light occupies in the fabric of space and time. The spectrum of light from X-rays to infrared lasers provides technologies that underpin our lives, optical technologies have revolutionized medical diagnostics and treatment, and light and photonics are poised to become the key enabling technologies of the future.

Light is the means by which human beings see themselves, each other, and their place in the Universe. Light is an essential part of culture and art and is a unifying symbol for the world. An International Year of Light is the ideal instrument to ensure the necessary increased worldwide awareness of the central role of light in the present and in the future of us all.

Goals
An International Year of Light will coordinate international and national activities in order to achieve the following goals.

• Improve the public understanding of how light and light-based technologies touch the daily lives of everybody, and are central to the future development of the global society.

• Build worldwide educational capacity through activities targeted on science for young people, addressing issues of gender balance, and focusing especially on developing countries and emerging economies.

• Enhance international cooperation by acting as a central information resource for activities coordinated by learned societies, educational establishments and industry.

• Focus on particular discoveries in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries that have shown the fundamental centrality of light in science.

• Highlight the importance of research both into the fundamental science of light and its applications, and promote careers in science in these fields

• Promote the importance of lighting technology in sustainable development, and for improving quality of life in the developing world.

• Highlight and explain the intimate link between light and art and culture, enhancing the role of optical technology to preserve cultural heritage.

• Maintain these goals and achievements in the future beyond the International Year of Light.

An International Year of Light will contribute significantly to fulfilling the missions of UNESCO to the building of peace, the alleviation of poverty, to sustainable development and intercultural dialogue through education, science, culture, and communication.

Context
Light is a subject that cuts across science and culture.

• Through biology and photosynthesis, light is at the very origin of life. The science and technology of light are essential for the future development of humankind, and in the search of solutions to solve global problems in sustainability and healthcare through international cooperation.

• Through studies in fundamental science ranging from particle physics to cosmology, light provides a window on the universe, and our efforts to understand the properties of light have led to revolutions in many different areas of science and engineering.

• An International Year of Light is not only about science and technology. Light is the means by which humanity sees itself, and the many ways that light has impacted on society have inspired art, music, literature and philosophy across the centuries.

• Light is a subject that unifies humanity. All nations and all peoples see the same Sun rise and fall on the horizon, and all cultures throughout history have expressed the same wonder at the natural beauty of light seen in effects such as the rainbow.

An International Year of Light will allow the universality of light and the variety of its applications to be appreciated via many and varied themes covering broad areas of interest, supported by cross-cutting themes addressing essential issues to be included in all activities. Actions will be implemented on national, regional and international levels. The main structure of these activities is illustrated below.

Thematic coverage
The activities of an International Year of Light will be structured around four broad thematic subject areas and important cross-cutting actions addressing central elements of sustainability, education and history.

Science of Light
Studying the fundamental scientific properties of light has impacted widely on all fields of science, technology and engineering. From early attempts to understand the motion of stars and planets to the appreciation of the importance of light in photosynthesis, efforts to understand the nature and the characteristics of light have revolutionized nearly every field of science. Light from the Big Bang provides us with a vision of the origin of the Universe. The spectrum of light from X-rays to infrared lasers provides technologies that underpin our lives, and the interaction of light with the human body provides valuable techniques for diagnosis, imaging and treatment in medicine. Advanced research in areas such as nanophotonics, quantum optics and ultrafast science are inspiring new fundamental discoveries and opening new scientific frontiers. This theme will highlight the fundamental scientific properties of light and why it is essential to continue research in this field for the future.

Light Technology
The science of light is applied in the technological field known as photonics, and this theme addresses the important ways that photonic devices impact on areas such as medicine, communications and energy.

Light plays a crucial role in modern life and in shrinking the modern world that is often unknown and unappreciated. Light pulses and advanced optical fibre cables form the backbone of the global internet, and satellite telephones and wireless technologies allow even the most remote areas of the world to have access to communications, information and even advanced medical care. Light Technology is essential to improve society’s energy independence through devices that efficiently convert sunlight to other energy forms, and new forms of low cost green lighting. In a similar way, understanding the Earth’s environment increasingly relies on optical and photonic techniques for sensing and measurement.

These examples are of course state-of-the-art feats of engineering. But at the same time, optical technologies that are simple and that have existed for centuries are tremendously important for our daily lives! Corrective eyeglasses for improved vision are familiar to us all, and simple optical instruments such as microscopes form a cornerstone of modern medical diagnostics. This theme will describe light technology and its many applications, and will focus on how optics is placed to be a key driver of innovation in the 21st century.

Light in Nature
The wonder of light and colour is revealed spectacularly in effects such as sunsets, rainbows, halos, and shadows to cite just a few examples of the rich variety of optical phenomena which can be found in nature. This theme will raise awareness of the beauty and accessibility of science through activities that will encourage and support observation of light and colour in the Natural world. No matter where one lives and no matter what one’s age, it is easy and delightful to understand Nature through light: from ice crystals near the artic to mirages in the desert to shadows in the forest to shifting images on water, the wonder and beauty of natural optics is everywhere. And of course, this theme provides a natural place to consider how observing light in nature often means turning off the lights from modern society. Whilst modern lighting provides important and crucial opportunities and advantages in improving quality of life, raising awareness of the issue of light pollution will also be an important feature of this theme.

Overall, in these days where downloading images of nature from the internet has largely replaced direct observation, activities in this theme will encourage outdoor observation in all-weathers and at all-latitudes, aiming to inspire a new generation of scientists to open their eyes.

 Light and Culture
Activities in this theme will highlight the myriad ways in which light has influenced and continues to influence human culture. From the early artists and scientists of Antiquity to the development of perspective and the understanding of light and shadow during the Renaissance, to impressionism and modern artistic techniques, this theme will describe how the study of light and art is central to understanding and appreciating our cultural heritage. Describing the continuous links between light and culture throughout history will provide valuable insights into the interactions between science and art and the humanities in general.

In a contemporary context, this theme will also describe ways in which light can be used to improve our appreciation of cultural heritage in ways such as applying optical techniques to image paintings, the use of modern technology in museums to experience culture in an interactive environment, and the use of natural light and low-pollution lighting to illuminate architecture, monuments and public spaces.

Light has influenced and continues to influence the visual and performing arts, literature and human thinking. This theme will provide an important bridge between science and culture and will aid in breaking down the boundaries between these fields that are becoming increasingly separated in the modern world

Cross-Cutting Themes
Several important themes of the International Year of Light will cut across, and be central to, all the activities described above.

Ensuring that science and technology are relevant to development and sustainability is essential, and modern optical technologies can play a vital role through low carbon emission solar lighting, and in areas such as agriculture, disease prevention, and water purification.

Light is an inspiring subject in both art and science, and promoting education for young people in these fields is a natural lever towards promoting higher education and encouraging careers in multidisciplinary fields in general. Addressing gender imbalance will be an essential part of this action as well.

A particular aspect of educational activities that can highlight the complex way in which science and society develops internationally is through the history of the science of light; this has involved virtually all the major figures of science over 2000 years and from all continents. Highlighting their often unknown human stories will be an inspiring educational and outreach activity for a new generation.

Examples of Activities
Each theme will include outreach and educational activities at all levels: international, national and local. A Steering Committee will provide oversight and ensure coordination. Detailed activity planning will begin in late 2012, but it is useful to illustrate the broad scope of an International Year of Light by providing examples of planned activities.

A Year of Pioneers
A twelve month calendar will associate each month with a particular scientist, and his or her contribution to the science of light. Classroom kits for schools will provide biographical and scientific information. Calendars will be made for international and regional dissemination.

Light in the Universe
Particular celebrations will focus on the advances of 1815, 1865, 1915 and 1965 that established light’s place at the centre of modern science. 200 years of the wave theory of light, 150 years of the theory of electrodynamics, 100 years of general relativity and 50 years since the discovery of the Cosmic Microwave Background will provide key scientific focal points.

A LightDay for Earth
To illustrate the unifying nature of light around the world, one particular day of the year will focus internationally on the role of light in nature, light conservation, and means of reducing light pollution. We will coordinate with existing annual events of this nature.

The Light Touch – Hands-On Optics
Building on existing partner activities, we will develop educational kits illustrating the principles of optics appropriate to the needs of institutions in both the developed and developing world. Focusing on instruments such as eye-glasses and microscopes etc will ensure societal relevance.

Bright Futures
This activity will be a yearlong program of educational activities linking specifically to careers in science. Addressing gender issues and promoting science careers for women in developing countries will be a priority.

Light for Change
The availability of inexpensive and energy-efficient lighting can revolutionize the quality of life in the developing world. Partners will support and develop initiatives promoting lighting of this sort worldwide.

The Daily Scientist
Volunteer scientists – from PhD students to Professors – will communicate their day-to-day experiences to the public at large using social media such as blogs, Facebook, YouTube. This will place a very human face on the scientific and engineering community.

Capturing Light
Nature provides many beautiful and inspiring examples of optical effects such as mirages, rainbows and so on. A year-long international competition amongst schools will solicit photographs of natural optical phenomena that will be posted on a centralized website. Winners will be announced monthly.

2015

The year 2015 is a natural candidate for the International Year of Light, commemorating a number of important milestones in the history of the science of light dating back 50, 100, 150, 200 years and even further.

In 1815, Fresnel published his first work introducing the theory of light as a wave and in 1865, Maxwell rigorously described the dynamic electro-magnetic theory of light. In 1915, the theory of General Relativity developed by Einstein showed how light was at the centre of the very structure of space and time. In 1965, Penzias and Wilson discovered the Cosmic Microwave Background, an electromagnetic echo of the very creation of the universe.

These discoveries changed physics profoundly when they were made, and continue to have tremendous impact on science and technology. The wave theory of light and the laws of electrodynamics have led to developments ranging from lasers and DVDs to mobile phones to wireless internet to radio astronomy. The laws of general relativity and the study of the Cosmic Microwave Background have impacted on areas from the design of the global GPS satellite system to fundamental questions concerning the origin of the Universe.

In more general terms, the year 2015 also represents 400 years since the invention of the first solar powered technology through the 1615 invention of a prototype solar-driven engine in France. Highlighting this pioneering invention will provide a valuable educational and historical perspective to activities relating to sustainable development.

A website for the International Year of Light 2015 will be live from early 2014.

John Dudley University of Franche-Comté, France (Secretary) Vice-President, European Physical Society
International Year of Light Secretariat
European Physical Society
6 rue des Frères Lumière
68200 Mulhouse, France
light@eps.org

 

An International Year of Light

On 20 December 2013, The United Nations (UN) General Assembly 68th Session proclaimed 2015 as the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies (IYL 2015). This International Year has been the initiative of a large consortium of scientific bodies together with UNESCO, and will bring together many different stakeholders including scientific societies and unions, educational institutions, technology platforms, non-profit organizations and private sector partners. In proclaiming an International Year focusing on the topic of light science and its applications, the United Nations has recognized the importance of raising global awareness about how light-based technologies promote sustainable development and provide solutions to global challenges in energy, education, agriculture and health. Light plays a vital role in our daily lives and is an imperative cross-cutting discipline of science in the 21st century. It has revolutionized medicine, opened up international communication via the Internet, and continues to be central to linking cultural, economic and political aspects of the global society. As the Chairman of the IYL 2015 Steering Committee John Dudley explains: „An International Year of Light is a tremendous opportunity to ensure that international policymakers and stakeholders are made aware of the problem-solving potential of light technology. We now have a unique opportunity to raise global awareness of this.”

Mission
The International Year of Light is a global initiative which will highlight to the citizens of the world the importance of light and optical technologies in their lives, for their futures, and for the development of society. The International Year of Light will consist of coordinated activities on national, regional and international levels. Activities will be planned so that people of all ages and all backgrounds from all countries appreciate the central role of light in science and culture, and as a cross-cutting scientific discipline that can advance sustainable development.

Background
The International Year of Light project was initiated in 2010 and has since become a broad partnership supported by a large number of international societies and related organizations.

The project received endorsement from the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP) general assembly in November 2011 and has since received support from unions including IUPAB (Biophysics), IUTAM (Theoretical and Applied Mechanics), IUHPS (History and Philosophy of Science); IAU (Astronomy); ISPRS (Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing); URSI (Radio Science). The partnership includes organizations linked to UNESCO such as ICTP and SESAME (Synchrotron-light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East).

The project is now accompanied by the UNESCO International Basic Sciences Programme (IBSP) with a view to approaching the UNESCO Executive Board for endorsement. The society partners have extensive and successful track records in international outreach and joint ventures such as the 2005 International Year of Physics and long-term educational programmes in both developed and developing countries. The Partnership possesses the resources and experience to ensure tremendous impact and success for an International Year of Light.

Motivation
Light plays a central role in human activities. On the most fundamental level through photosynthesis, light is necessary to the existence of life itself, and the many applications of light have revolutionized society through medicine, communications, entertainment and culture. Industries based on light are major economic drivers, and light-based technologies directly respond to the needs of humankind by providing access to information, promoting sustainable development, and increasing societal health and well-being. As light becomes the key cross-cutting discipline of science and engineering in the 21st century, it is essential that the brightest young minds continue to be attracted into careers in this field.

All fields of science are based on the theories of light and its interaction with matter, and light is one of the main messengers in our understanding of the Universe and the subatomic world. The history of the study of light spans centuries, and has involved virtually all the major figures of science. And it was the 20th century that saw the birth of the modern theory of light, the invention and application of lasers, the widespread deployment of photonic devices to improve society, and the full appreciation of the fundamental place that light occupies in the fabric of space and time. The spectrum of light from X-rays to infrared lasers provides technologies that underpin our lives, optical technologies have revolutionized medical diagnostics and treatment, and light and photonics are poised to become the key enabling technologies of the future.

Light is the means by which human beings see themselves, each other, and their place in the Universe. Light is an essential part of culture and art and is a unifying symbol for the world. An International Year of Light is the ideal instrument to ensure the necessary increased worldwide awareness of the central role of light in the present and in the future of us all.

Goals
An International Year of Light will coordinate international and national activities in order to achieve the following goals.

• Improve the public understanding of how light and light-based technologies touch the daily lives of everybody, and are central to the future development of the global society.

• Build worldwide educational capacity through activities targeted on science for young people, addressing issues of gender balance, and focusing especially on developing countries and emerging economies.

• Enhance international cooperation by acting as a central information resource for activities coordinated by learned societies, educational establishments and industry.

• Focus on particular discoveries in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries that have shown the fundamental centrality of light in science.

• Highlight the importance of research both into the fundamental science of light and its applications, and promote careers in science in these fields

• Promote the importance of lighting technology in sustainable development, and for improving quality of life in the developing world.

• Highlight and explain the intimate link between light and art and culture, enhancing the role of optical technology to preserve cultural heritage.

• Maintain these goals and achievements in the future beyond the International Year of Light.

An International Year of Light will contribute significantly to fulfilling the missions of UNESCO to the building of peace, the alleviation of poverty, to sustainable development and intercultural dialogue through education, science, culture, and communication.

Context
Light is a subject that cuts across science and culture.

• Through biology and photosynthesis, light is at the very origin of life. The science and technology of light are essential for the future development of humankind, and in the search of solutions to solve global problems in sustainability and healthcare through international cooperation.

• Through studies in fundamental science ranging from particle physics to cosmology, light provides a window on the universe, and our efforts to understand the properties of light have led to revolutions in many different areas of science and engineering.

• An International Year of Light is not only about science and technology. Light is the means by which humanity sees itself, and the many ways that light has impacted on society have inspired art, music, literature and philosophy across the centuries.

• Light is a subject that unifies humanity. All nations and all peoples see the same Sun rise and fall on the horizon, and all cultures throughout history have expressed the same wonder at the natural beauty of light seen in effects such as the rainbow.

An International Year of Light will allow the universality of light and the variety of its applications to be appreciated via many and varied themes covering broad areas of interest, supported by cross-cutting themes addressing essential issues to be included in all activities. Actions will be implemented on national, regional and international levels. The main structure of these activities is illustrated below.

Thematic coverage
The activities of an International Year of Light will be structured around four broad thematic subject areas and important cross-cutting actions addressing central elements of sustainability, education and history.

Science of Light
Studying the fundamental scientific properties of light has impacted widely on all fields of science, technology and engineering. From early attempts to understand the motion of stars and planets to the appreciation of the importance of light in photosynthesis, efforts to understand the nature and the characteristics of light have revolutionized nearly every field of science. Light from the Big Bang provides us with a vision of the origin of the Universe. The spectrum of light from X-rays to infrared lasers provides technologies that underpin our lives, and the interaction of light with the human body provides valuable techniques for diagnosis, imaging and treatment in medicine. Advanced research in areas such as nanophotonics, quantum optics and ultrafast science are inspiring new fundamental discoveries and opening new scientific frontiers. This theme will highlight the fundamental scientific properties of light and why it is essential to continue research in this field for the future.

Light Technology
The science of light is applied in the technological field known as photonics, and this theme addresses the important ways that photonic devices impact on areas such as medicine, communications and energy.

Light plays a crucial role in modern life and in shrinking the modern world that is often unknown and unappreciated. Light pulses and advanced optical fibre cables form the backbone of the global internet, and satellite telephones and wireless technologies allow even the most remote areas of the world to have access to communications, information and even advanced medical care. Light Technology is essential to improve society’s energy independence through devices that efficiently convert sunlight to other energy forms, and new forms of low cost green lighting. In a similar way, understanding the Earth’s environment increasingly relies on optical and photonic techniques for sensing and measurement.

These examples are of course state-of-the-art feats of engineering. But at the same time, optical technologies that are simple and that have existed for centuries are tremendously important for our daily lives! Corrective eyeglasses for improved vision are familiar to us all, and simple optical instruments such as microscopes form a cornerstone of modern medical diagnostics. This theme will describe light technology and its many applications, and will focus on how optics is placed to be a key driver of innovation in the 21st century.

Light in Nature
The wonder of light and colour is revealed spectacularly in effects such as sunsets, rainbows, halos, and shadows to cite just a few examples of the rich variety of optical phenomena which can be found in nature. This theme will raise awareness of the beauty and accessibility of science through activities that will encourage and support observation of light and colour in the Natural world. No matter where one lives and no matter what one’s age, it is easy and delightful to understand Nature through light: from ice crystals near the artic to mirages in the desert to shadows in the forest to shifting images on water, the wonder and beauty of natural optics is everywhere. And of course, this theme provides a natural place to consider how observing light in nature often means turning off the lights from modern society. Whilst modern lighting provides important and crucial opportunities and advantages in improving quality of life, raising awareness of the issue of light pollution will also be an important feature of this theme.

Overall, in these days where downloading images of nature from the internet has largely replaced direct observation, activities in this theme will encourage outdoor observation in all-weathers and at all-latitudes, aiming to inspire a new generation of scientists to open their eyes.

 Light and Culture
Activities in this theme will highlight the myriad ways in which light has influenced and continues to influence human culture. From the early artists and scientists of Antiquity to the development of perspective and the understanding of light and shadow during the Renaissance, to impressionism and modern artistic techniques, this theme will describe how the study of light and art is central to understanding and appreciating our cultural heritage. Describing the continuous links between light and culture throughout history will provide valuable insights into the interactions between science and art and the humanities in general.

In a contemporary context, this theme will also describe ways in which light can be used to improve our appreciation of cultural heritage in ways such as applying optical techniques to image paintings, the use of modern technology in museums to experience culture in an interactive environment, and the use of natural light and low-pollution lighting to illuminate architecture, monuments and public spaces.

Light has influenced and continues to influence the visual and performing arts, literature and human thinking. This theme will provide an important bridge between science and culture and will aid in breaking down the boundaries between these fields that are becoming increasingly separated in the modern world

Cross-Cutting Themes
Several important themes of the International Year of Light will cut across, and be central to, all the activities described above.

Ensuring that science and technology are relevant to development and sustainability is essential, and modern optical technologies can play a vital role through low carbon emission solar lighting, and in areas such as agriculture, disease prevention, and water purification.

Light is an inspiring subject in both art and science, and promoting education for young people in these fields is a natural lever towards promoting higher education and encouraging careers in multidisciplinary fields in general. Addressing gender imbalance will be an essential part of this action as well.

A particular aspect of educational activities that can highlight the complex way in which science and society develops internationally is through the history of the science of light; this has involved virtually all the major figures of science over 2000 years and from all continents. Highlighting their often unknown human stories will be an inspiring educational and outreach activity for a new generation.

Examples of Activities
Each theme will include outreach and educational activities at all levels: international, national and local. A Steering Committee will provide oversight and ensure coordination. Detailed activity planning will begin in late 2012, but it is useful to illustrate the broad scope of an International Year of Light by providing examples of planned activities.

A Year of Pioneers
A twelve month calendar will associate each month with a particular scientist, and his or her contribution to the science of light. Classroom kits for schools will provide biographical and scientific information. Calendars will be made for international and regional dissemination.

Light in the Universe
Particular celebrations will focus on the advances of 1815, 1865, 1915 and 1965 that established light’s place at the centre of modern science. 200 years of the wave theory of light, 150 years of the theory of electrodynamics, 100 years of general relativity and 50 years since the discovery of the Cosmic Microwave Background will provide key scientific focal points.

A LightDay for Earth
To illustrate the unifying nature of light around the world, one particular day of the year will focus internationally on the role of light in nature, light conservation, and means of reducing light pollution. We will coordinate with existing annual events of this nature.

The Light Touch – Hands-On Optics
Building on existing partner activities, we will develop educational kits illustrating the principles of optics appropriate to the needs of institutions in both the developed and developing world. Focusing on instruments such as eye-glasses and microscopes etc will ensure societal relevance.

Bright Futures
This activity will be a yearlong program of educational activities linking specifically to careers in science. Addressing gender issues and promoting science careers for women in developing countries will be a priority.

Light for Change
The availability of inexpensive and energy-efficient lighting can revolutionize the quality of life in the developing world. Partners will support and develop initiatives promoting lighting of this sort worldwide.

The Daily Scientist
Volunteer scientists – from PhD students to Professors – will communicate their day-to-day experiences to the public at large using social media such as blogs, Facebook, YouTube. This will place a very human face on the scientific and engineering community.

Capturing Light
Nature provides many beautiful and inspiring examples of optical effects such as mirages, rainbows and so on. A year-long international competition amongst schools will solicit photographs of natural optical phenomena that will be posted on a centralized website. Winners will be announced monthly.

2015

The year 2015 is a natural candidate for the International Year of Light, commemorating a number of important milestones in the history of the science of light dating back 50, 100, 150, 200 years and even further.

In 1815, Fresnel published his first work introducing the theory of light as a wave and in 1865, Maxwell rigorously described the dynamic electro-magnetic theory of light. In 1915, the theory of General Relativity developed by Einstein showed how light was at the centre of the very structure of space and time. In 1965, Penzias and Wilson discovered the Cosmic Microwave Background, an electromagnetic echo of the very creation of the universe.

These discoveries changed physics profoundly when they were made, and continue to have tremendous impact on science and technology. The wave theory of light and the laws of electrodynamics have led to developments ranging from lasers and DVDs to mobile phones to wireless internet to radio astronomy. The laws of general relativity and the study of the Cosmic Microwave Background have impacted on areas from the design of the global GPS satellite system to fundamental questions concerning the origin of the Universe.

In more general terms, the year 2015 also represents 400 years since the invention of the first solar powered technology through the 1615 invention of a prototype solar-driven engine in France. Highlighting this pioneering invention will provide a valuable educational and historical perspective to activities relating to sustainable development.

A website for the International Year of Light 2015 will be live from early 2014.

John Dudley University of Franche-Comté, France (Secretary) Vice-President, European Physical Society
International Year of Light Secretariat
European Physical Society
6 rue des Frères Lumière
68200 Mulhouse, France
light@eps.org

 

An International Year of Light

On 20 December 2013, The United Nations (UN) General Assembly 68th Session proclaimed 2015 as the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies (IYL 2015). This International Year has been the initiative of a large consortium of scientific bodies together with UNESCO, and will bring together many different stakeholders including scientific societies and unions, educational institutions, technology platforms, non-profit organizations and private sector partners. In proclaiming an International Year focusing on the topic of light science and its applications, the United Nations has recognized the importance of raising global awareness about how light-based technologies promote sustainable development and provide solutions to global challenges in energy, education, agriculture and health. Light plays a vital role in our daily lives and is an imperative cross-cutting discipline of science in the 21st century. It has revolutionized medicine, opened up international communication via the Internet, and continues to be central to linking cultural, economic and political aspects of the global society. As the Chairman of the IYL 2015 Steering Committee John Dudley explains: „An International Year of Light is a tremendous opportunity to ensure that international policymakers and stakeholders are made aware of the problem-solving potential of light technology. We now have a unique opportunity to raise global awareness of this.”

Mission
The International Year of Light is a global initiative which will highlight to the citizens of the world the importance of light and optical technologies in their lives, for their futures, and for the development of society. The International Year of Light will consist of coordinated activities on national, regional and international levels. Activities will be planned so that people of all ages and all backgrounds from all countries appreciate the central role of light in science and culture, and as a cross-cutting scientific discipline that can advance sustainable development.

Background
The International Year of Light project was initiated in 2010 and has since become a broad partnership supported by a large number of international societies and related organizations.

The project received endorsement from the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP) general assembly in November 2011 and has since received support from unions including IUPAB (Biophysics), IUTAM (Theoretical and Applied Mechanics), IUHPS (History and Philosophy of Science); IAU (Astronomy); ISPRS (Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing); URSI (Radio Science). The partnership includes organizations linked to UNESCO such as ICTP and SESAME (Synchrotron-light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East).

The project is now accompanied by the UNESCO International Basic Sciences Programme (IBSP) with a view to approaching the UNESCO Executive Board for endorsement. The society partners have extensive and successful track records in international outreach and joint ventures such as the 2005 International Year of Physics and long-term educational programmes in both developed and developing countries. The Partnership possesses the resources and experience to ensure tremendous impact and success for an International Year of Light.

Motivation
Light plays a central role in human activities. On the most fundamental level through photosynthesis, light is necessary to the existence of life itself, and the many applications of light have revolutionized society through medicine, communications, entertainment and culture. Industries based on light are major economic drivers, and light-based technologies directly respond to the needs of humankind by providing access to information, promoting sustainable development, and increasing societal health and well-being. As light becomes the key cross-cutting discipline of science and engineering in the 21st century, it is essential that the brightest young minds continue to be attracted into careers in this field.

All fields of science are based on the theories of light and its interaction with matter, and light is one of the main messengers in our understanding of the Universe and the subatomic world. The history of the study of light spans centuries, and has involved virtually all the major figures of science. And it was the 20th century that saw the birth of the modern theory of light, the invention and application of lasers, the widespread deployment of photonic devices to improve society, and the full appreciation of the fundamental place that light occupies in the fabric of space and time. The spectrum of light from X-rays to infrared lasers provides technologies that underpin our lives, optical technologies have revolutionized medical diagnostics and treatment, and light and photonics are poised to become the key enabling technologies of the future.

Light is the means by which human beings see themselves, each other, and their place in the Universe. Light is an essential part of culture and art and is a unifying symbol for the world. An International Year of Light is the ideal instrument to ensure the necessary increased worldwide awareness of the central role of light in the present and in the future of us all.

Goals
An International Year of Light will coordinate international and national activities in order to achieve the following goals.

• Improve the public understanding of how light and light-based technologies touch the daily lives of everybody, and are central to the future development of the global society.

• Build worldwide educational capacity through activities targeted on science for young people, addressing issues of gender balance, and focusing especially on developing countries and emerging economies.

• Enhance international cooperation by acting as a central information resource for activities coordinated by learned societies, educational establishments and industry.

• Focus on particular discoveries in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries that have shown the fundamental centrality of light in science.

• Highlight the importance of research both into the fundamental science of light and its applications, and promote careers in science in these fields

• Promote the importance of lighting technology in sustainable development, and for improving quality of life in the developing world.

• Highlight and explain the intimate link between light and art and culture, enhancing the role of optical technology to preserve cultural heritage.

• Maintain these goals and achievements in the future beyond the International Year of Light.

An International Year of Light will contribute significantly to fulfilling the missions of UNESCO to the building of peace, the alleviation of poverty, to sustainable development and intercultural dialogue through education, science, culture, and communication.

Context
Light is a subject that cuts across science and culture.

• Through biology and photosynthesis, light is at the very origin of life. The science and technology of light are essential for the future development of humankind, and in the search of solutions to solve global problems in sustainability and healthcare through international cooperation.

• Through studies in fundamental science ranging from particle physics to cosmology, light provides a window on the universe, and our efforts to understand the properties of light have led to revolutions in many different areas of science and engineering.

• An International Year of Light is not only about science and technology. Light is the means by which humanity sees itself, and the many ways that light has impacted on society have inspired art, music, literature and philosophy across the centuries.

• Light is a subject that unifies humanity. All nations and all peoples see the same Sun rise and fall on the horizon, and all cultures throughout history have expressed the same wonder at the natural beauty of light seen in effects such as the rainbow.

An International Year of Light will allow the universality of light and the variety of its applications to be appreciated via many and varied themes covering broad areas of interest, supported by cross-cutting themes addressing essential issues to be included in all activities. Actions will be implemented on national, regional and international levels. The main structure of these activities is illustrated below.

Thematic coverage
The activities of an International Year of Light will be structured around four broad thematic subject areas and important cross-cutting actions addressing central elements of sustainability, education and history.

Science of Light
Studying the fundamental scientific properties of light has impacted widely on all fields of science, technology and engineering. From early attempts to understand the motion of stars and planets to the appreciation of the importance of light in photosynthesis, efforts to understand the nature and the characteristics of light have revolutionized nearly every field of science. Light from the Big Bang provides us with a vision of the origin of the Universe. The spectrum of light from X-rays to infrared lasers provides technologies that underpin our lives, and the interaction of light with the human body provides valuable techniques for diagnosis, imaging and treatment in medicine. Advanced research in areas such as nanophotonics, quantum optics and ultrafast science are inspiring new fundamental discoveries and opening new scientific frontiers. This theme will highlight the fundamental scientific properties of light and why it is essential to continue research in this field for the future.

Light Technology
The science of light is applied in the technological field known as photonics, and this theme addresses the important ways that photonic devices impact on areas such as medicine, communications and energy.

Light plays a crucial role in modern life and in shrinking the modern world that is often unknown and unappreciated. Light pulses and advanced optical fibre cables form the backbone of the global internet, and satellite telephones and wireless technologies allow even the most remote areas of the world to have access to communications, information and even advanced medical care. Light Technology is essential to improve society’s energy independence through devices that efficiently convert sunlight to other energy forms, and new forms of low cost green lighting. In a similar way, understanding the Earth’s environment increasingly relies on optical and photonic techniques for sensing and measurement.

These examples are of course state-of-the-art feats of engineering. But at the same time, optical technologies that are simple and that have existed for centuries are tremendously important for our daily lives! Corrective eyeglasses for improved vision are familiar to us all, and simple optical instruments such as microscopes form a cornerstone of modern medical diagnostics. This theme will describe light technology and its many applications, and will focus on how optics is placed to be a key driver of innovation in the 21st century.

Light in Nature
The wonder of light and colour is revealed spectacularly in effects such as sunsets, rainbows, halos, and shadows to cite just a few examples of the rich variety of optical phenomena which can be found in nature. This theme will raise awareness of the beauty and accessibility of science through activities that will encourage and support observation of light and colour in the Natural world. No matter where one lives and no matter what one’s age, it is easy and delightful to understand Nature through light: from ice crystals near the artic to mirages in the desert to shadows in the forest to shifting images on water, the wonder and beauty of natural optics is everywhere. And of course, this theme provides a natural place to consider how observing light in nature often means turning off the lights from modern society. Whilst modern lighting provides important and crucial opportunities and advantages in improving quality of life, raising awareness of the issue of light pollution will also be an important feature of this theme.

Overall, in these days where downloading images of nature from the internet has largely replaced direct observation, activities in this theme will encourage outdoor observation in all-weathers and at all-latitudes, aiming to inspire a new generation of scientists to open their eyes.

 Light and Culture
Activities in this theme will highlight the myriad ways in which light has influenced and continues to influence human culture. From the early artists and scientists of Antiquity to the development of perspective and the understanding of light and shadow during the Renaissance, to impressionism and modern artistic techniques, this theme will describe how the study of light and art is central to understanding and appreciating our cultural heritage. Describing the continuous links between light and culture throughout history will provide valuable insights into the interactions between science and art and the humanities in general.

In a contemporary context, this theme will also describe ways in which light can be used to improve our appreciation of cultural heritage in ways such as applying optical techniques to image paintings, the use of modern technology in museums to experience culture in an interactive environment, and the use of natural light and low-pollution lighting to illuminate architecture, monuments and public spaces.

Light has influenced and continues to influence the visual and performing arts, literature and human thinking. This theme will provide an important bridge between science and culture and will aid in breaking down the boundaries between these fields that are becoming increasingly separated in the modern world

Cross-Cutting Themes
Several important themes of the International Year of Light will cut across, and be central to, all the activities described above.

Ensuring that science and technology are relevant to development and sustainability is essential, and modern optical technologies can play a vital role through low carbon emission solar lighting, and in areas such as agriculture, disease prevention, and water purification.

Light is an inspiring subject in both art and science, and promoting education for young people in these fields is a natural lever towards promoting higher education and encouraging careers in multidisciplinary fields in general. Addressing gender imbalance will be an essential part of this action as well.

A particular aspect of educational activities that can highlight the complex way in which science and society develops internationally is through the history of the science of light; this has involved virtually all the major figures of science over 2000 years and from all continents. Highlighting their often unknown human stories will be an inspiring educational and outreach activity for a new generation.

Examples of Activities
Each theme will include outreach and educational activities at all levels: international, national and local. A Steering Committee will provide oversight and ensure coordination. Detailed activity planning will begin in late 2012, but it is useful to illustrate the broad scope of an International Year of Light by providing examples of planned activities.

A Year of Pioneers
A twelve month calendar will associate each month with a particular scientist, and his or her contribution to the science of light. Classroom kits for schools will provide biographical and scientific information. Calendars will be made for international and regional dissemination.

Light in the Universe
Particular celebrations will focus on the advances of 1815, 1865, 1915 and 1965 that established light’s place at the centre of modern science. 200 years of the wave theory of light, 150 years of the theory of electrodynamics, 100 years of general relativity and 50 years since the discovery of the Cosmic Microwave Background will provide key scientific focal points.

A LightDay for Earth
To illustrate the unifying nature of light around the world, one particular day of the year will focus internationally on the role of light in nature, light conservation, and means of reducing light pollution. We will coordinate with existing annual events of this nature.

The Light Touch – Hands-On Optics
Building on existing partner activities, we will develop educational kits illustrating the principles of optics appropriate to the needs of institutions in both the developed and developing world. Focusing on instruments such as eye-glasses and microscopes etc will ensure societal relevance.

Bright Futures
This activity will be a yearlong program of educational activities linking specifically to careers in science. Addressing gender issues and promoting science careers for women in developing countries will be a priority.

Light for Change
The availability of inexpensive and energy-efficient lighting can revolutionize the quality of life in the developing world. Partners will support and develop initiatives promoting lighting of this sort worldwide.

The Daily Scientist
Volunteer scientists – from PhD students to Professors – will communicate their day-to-day experiences to the public at large using social media such as blogs, Facebook, YouTube. This will place a very human face on the scientific and engineering community.

Capturing Light
Nature provides many beautiful and inspiring examples of optical effects such as mirages, rainbows and so on. A year-long international competition amongst schools will solicit photographs of natural optical phenomena that will be posted on a centralized website. Winners will be announced monthly.

2015

The year 2015 is a natural candidate for the International Year of Light, commemorating a number of important milestones in the history of the science of light dating back 50, 100, 150, 200 years and even further.

In 1815, Fresnel published his first work introducing the theory of light as a wave and in 1865, Maxwell rigorously described the dynamic electro-magnetic theory of light. In 1915, the theory of General Relativity developed by Einstein showed how light was at the centre of the very structure of space and time. In 1965, Penzias and Wilson discovered the Cosmic Microwave Background, an electromagnetic echo of the very creation of the universe.

These discoveries changed physics profoundly when they were made, and continue to have tremendous impact on science and technology. The wave theory of light and the laws of electrodynamics have led to developments ranging from lasers and DVDs to mobile phones to wireless internet to radio astronomy. The laws of general relativity and the study of the Cosmic Microwave Background have impacted on areas from the design of the global GPS satellite system to fundamental questions concerning the origin of the Universe.

In more general terms, the year 2015 also represents 400 years since the invention of the first solar powered technology through the 1615 invention of a prototype solar-driven engine in France. Highlighting this pioneering invention will provide a valuable educational and historical perspective to activities relating to sustainable development.

A website for the International Year of Light 2015 will be live from early 2014.

John Dudley University of Franche-Comté, France (Secretary) Vice-President, European Physical Society
International Year of Light Secretariat
European Physical Society
6 rue des Frères Lumière
68200 Mulhouse, France
light@eps.org

 

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