Today is the International Day of Light, a legacy activity of the highly successful 2015 International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies (IYL). The IYL included more than 13,000 activities that took place in 147 countries, reaching an estimated audience of more than 100 million, and raising worldwide awareness of the achievement of light science and its applications. Now, the International Day of Light (IDL) will provide an annual focal point for the continued appreciation of the central role that light plays in the lives of the citizens of the world in areas of science, culture and art, education, sustainable development, and in fields as diverse as medicine, communications and energy. The recurring IDL date of May 16 marks the anniversary of the first successful operation of a laser by physicist and engineer Theodore Maiman in 1960. SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, is an IDL Steering Committee member and has been a leader in launching and supporting both the IYL and the IDL.
“As early supporters of both the International Year of Light in 2015 and the now-annual International Day, SPIE is proud to continue its support during this year’s event,” said new SPIE CEO Kent Rochford. “A critical part of the SPIE mission is to advance the science of light and light-based technologies, and draw attention to the many ways in which light improves and enhances our lives on a daily basis.”
The inauguration of the IDL will take place at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris on 16 May, 2018. The event will bring together international leaders to raise awareness of the many ways that light impacts modern society, and to consider how advances in light-based science and technology can aid in achieving goals in education and sustainable development. Science and industry leaders, national delegates and sponsors, diplomats and decision-makers from across the globe, science enthusiasts, and students will gather for presentations that include talks by 2017 Nobel Prize-winner for Physics, Kip S. Thorne and 1997 Physics Nobel Prize winner Claude Cohen-Tannoudji. SPIE board member Bernard Kress will offer an augmented reality/virtual reality demonstration as part of the exhibition alongside displays from the Light Painting World Alliance (LPWA), the Museum of Light, and numerous other exhibits. Artist Kari Kola has created a work of light art titled Day and Night in Paris that will cover the Fontenoy building at UNESCO Headquarters during the event. Both Rochford and outgoing SPIE CEO Eugene Arthurs, who is retiring after 19 years with the organization, will participate in the inaugural event.
“The International Day of Light provides us all with the opportunity to promote the importance of optics and photonics to society on May 16 every year,” noted IDL 2018 Steering Committee Chairman John Dudley. “Achieving the recognition of an International Day proclaimed by UNESCO is a remarkable success, and I’d like to express my personal thanks and appreciation to SPIE for their specific support of this project over many years, as well as their continual efforts in promoting education and humanitarian applications of light-based technologies.”
As part of its efforts to raise awareness around the International Day of Light, SPIE created free digital resources for those in the community wishing to participate. In addition to the logo, graphics, posters, bookmarks and a video; worksheets are available in multiple languages. Micro grants were also awarded to support IDL activities in India, Argentina, Thailand, Italy, Pakistan, South Africa, New Zealand, Mexico, Canada, the UK, and the US. And on 16 May, SPIE will launch its 2018 International Day of Light photo competition, which is open to people of all ages, both amateur and professional.