IYL 2015 public lecture series at the Academy of Athens
On the occasion of UNESCO’s inauguration of 2015 as the International Year of Light, the Research Center for Astronomy and Applied Mathematics [RCAAM] of the Academy of Athens hosted a series of public lectures aiming to raise public awareness of the defining role of light and cosmic light sources to the human perception of the universe and the advancement of science and space exploration.
RCAAM’s staff researchers, collaborators, and visiting researchers were the keynote speakers in all cases. A series of nine bi-weekly lectures, all delivered at the Academy’s main building – T. Hansen’s landmark of neoclassical Athens – explored every mystifying aspect of our knowledge of light: the discovery of its dual nature, the colors of the optical range of the electromagnetic spectrum, the eternal, timeless travel of light around the Universe, the relativistic space-time ensemble and the use of light for science at all cosmic scales, from cosmological objects to galaxies, to stars and their satellite – possibly habitable – worlds, to our own Sun and the solar system. Speakers moved on to challenge and sometimes provoke the audience’s minds into probing the minds and thoughts of those pioneering explorers over the centuries who created and cultivated the existing knowledge of the universe for future generations to reflect on, expand, extend, and revise. State-of-the-art observatories, both ground- and space-based, were exposed to public view. Even the science of blockbuster universe-themed movies, however accurate or exaggerated, was analyzed for discussion and debate. We enjoyed numerous questions, some of them surprising for their ingenious simplicity and common sense. We concluded the series of lectures with a consensus for the public affection and desire to become acquainted with the science of the cosmos.
In talking about the Sun, the activities of one of EPS’s Divisions, the European Solar Physics Division, were introduced. We consider it a benefit for the Society as a whole that some people inquired about whether and how they could become involved, that sparked a discussion about individual membership or membership of national Societies affiliated to the EPS.
More information about the lectures, and even some recorded talks, can be found at http://astro.academyofathens.gr/light2015/ (in Greek).
Information about the RCAAM and its personnel (in English) can also be found at http://astro.academyofathens.gr/.