International Year of Light News

By & . Published on 26 March 2014 in:
IYL 2015, March 2014, News, , , ,

IYL2015 mobilisation begins worldwide


The start of the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies [IYL2015] may still be nine months away, but there has been tremendous enthusiasm from scientists and non-scientists alike, and planning meetings have taken place and are taking place around the world.

The EPS, together with partners from SPIE, OSA, APS, ICSU and ICO have contacted thousands of scientists and students worldwide in over 100 countries to inform them of IYL2015’s aims and objectives, and to provide essential information to begin national coordination. National planning meetings have being taking place since 2013, and the overall global programme of activities is under detailed planning by the IYL2015 Steering Committee and UNESCO.

An International Year is far more than simply scientists talking to scientists. It is our chance to explain to non-scientists what we do and why we are so passionate about it. The article below describing organisation in St Petersburg is a typical example of the ideas that can develop when enthusiasm and energy are directed towards science communication and outreach.

If you are still not aware of what the aims are for next year please check out the EPS website. The international website will be live very soon, so keep an eye out .

The International Year of Light has begun for St. Petersburg

Meetings are currently taking place all over the world in order to brainstorm ideas and plan the activities for the International Year of Light 2015, and St. Petersburg is no exception. It could hardly be otherwise: this is the cultural capital of Russia, the city of light during the White Nights, where great physicists who gave a definite contribution to the study and understanding of light in all of its manifestations lived and worked: Dmitry Sergeyevich Rozhdestvensky (1876-1940), Sergey Ivanovich Vavilov (1891-1951), Alexander Nikolaevich Terenin (1896-1967), Pavel Alekseyevich Cherenkov (1904-1990), Yuri Nikolaevich Denisyuk (1927-2006).

The year 2015 commemorates some anniversaries related to St. Petersburg: 75 years since Dmitry S. Rozhdestvensky´s death and 110 years of Graduate Degrees from the Department of Mechanics, Optics and Horology of the “Tsarevich Nicholas Vocational School”, future ITMO University, today one of the leading Russian universities in the fields of light-based science and technology. Moreover, the Decree by Peter the Great that established the Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg was issued in 1725 and the Academy was solemnly inaugurated in the same year.

A round-table meeting was held at ITMO University on 21 January 2014 that had as its theme the University’s intentions for programmes and initiatives for the International Year of Light 2015. The meeting was attended by more than twenty participants, including the vice-Chancellor for Strategic Development, the vice-Chancellor for Research, Deans, Heads of Department, Heads of Laboratory, Professors, as well as representatives of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the D. S. Rozhdestvensky Optical Society, the S. I. Vavilov State Optical Institute, and the Hellenic Institute of Holography in Athens.

Many were the ideas discussed in the meeting, emphasizing the multidisciplinary nature of the topics encompassed by light, and targeted at the aims of this International Year, among which hosting an international young scientists conference on Optics dedicated to the first graduates from the Department of Mechanics, Optics and Horology of the “Tsarevich Nicholas Vocational School” and to the memory of Dmitry S. Rozhdestvensky, organizing a festival “Days of Light” dedicated to light-based science and technology together with the Government of the City of St. Petersburg, organizing an exhibition together with a local museum on Light, Science and Art, hosting the International Symposium on Display Holography 2015 [ISDH 2015], and organizing an international conference on Light, Science and Literature dedicated to the “Theory of Colours” by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, published in 1810, and to the awarding of the Goethe Prize to Max Planck in 1945.

Indeed, the International Year of Light is not only about science and technology: light has inspired art, music, literature and philosophy across the centuries. Light is therefore at the origin of intelligent life itself, at the origin of thought. Describing the continuous links between light and culture throughout history will contribute to a deeper understanding of the interactions between science and art, and, ultimately, to greater insight into the changes of paradigm occurring in contemporary society and the asymmetries of development of the global society. One example: while modern technology may be used in museums to experience culture in an interactive environment, and energy-saving and low-pollution lighting can be used to illuminate monuments and public spaces, there are still many regions in the globe without access to electric lighting.

Let us use the International Year of Light 2015 as an opportunity for reflection and action, so that the light may shine for all.

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