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World celebrates second International Day of Light

16 May 2019

On 16 May 2019, more than 300 events are scheduled to take place in 60 countries worldwide.

Today, May 16th, marks the global celebration of the second edition of the International Day of Light.  The International Day of Light is an official observance of UNESCO  that provides an annual focal point for the continued appreciation of light and the role it plays in science, culture and art, education, and sustainable development, and in fields as diverse as medicine, communications, and energy.

The broad theme of light allows many different sectors of society worldwide to participate in activities that demonstrates how science, technology, art and culture can help achieve the goals of UNESCO – education, equality, and peace.

As the Director General of UNESCO Audrey Azoulay states in a special message for the International Day of Light 2019: “All its natural benefits and its scientific and technological applications make light an essential part of the daily life of our societies; these benefits and applications make light an important issue for the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”

Over 300 events are scheduled to take place in 60 countries worldwide, bringing together an international community of scientists, students and the public.  A special focus of celebrations on 16 May will be the Illuminating Education conference held at the UNESCO Category 1 Institute ICTP in Trieste.

Presentations will cover a wide range of topics, from leading edge inspiring science to discussions of science education, issues of diversity and gender equality, and practical career advice. A full list of planned events worldwide can be accessed on the official Events Page. For further information, please contact the International Day of Light secretariat: John Dudley, IDL 2018 Steering Committee Chair; email: john.dudley@univ-fcomte.fr

SPIE partnership with IDL

Optical fiber networks, the inner workings of smartphones, light painting, and Laser Pink Floyd: there are myriad ways in which light impacts our lives, and the second International Day of Light is to celebrate them all. This year’s flagship event in Trieste, Italy, is showcasing just some of the areas – science, sustainable development, health, art, and communications – in which light creates and enables critical benefits.

The overall program, entitled "Illuminating Education", will include a presentation by University of Auckland’s Cather Simpson (“Using Physics to Feed the Planet”); the National Optical Astronomy Observatory’s Stephen Pompea showcasing the fruits of public engagement within his field; and Imperial College London’s Jess Wade describing her next-generation, OLED research as well as her efforts to address gender imbalance in science.

As a member of the IDL steering committee, SPIE, publisher of optics.org, is playing an integral part during the Trieste event: longtime SPIE Member and member of its Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion committee Perla Marlene Viera-Gonzàlez will be sharing her science outreach experiences alongside members of other international scientific societies.

Furthermore, today, SPIE is launching its annual IDL Photo Competition, and, around the world, communities will be sharing the benefits of light and celebrating light with the support of an SPIE IDL Micro Grant.

Global activities

From the US to Ukraine, here is just a sample of the many ways in which light will be heralded, shared, and celebrated across the globe:

  • Flowers and Photonics: The SPIE Student Chapter at the University of Rochester will be participating in the town’s historic Lilac Festival. Their “Light & Lilacs” event will engage community members with fun and entertaining optics demonstrations.
  • Light in our Life: In Uncasville, Connecticut, U.S., the St. Bernard School will be running their second annual IDL photo contest, running an educational and invitational campaign throughout Spring on optics and photonics, via posters, light-based applications presentations in classes, and a workshop during the Math Honor Society’s monthly meeting.
  • Talking Through Light: The Photonics Society of Ghent, Belgium, is holding a city-center, open-to-the-public event that explains how light can be modulated to enable the transfer of information.
  • Pop-up Museum of Light: In Tucuman, Argentina, the Instituto de Luz Ambiente y Visión is hosting events throughout May to highlight the fundamental role light plays in daily life.
  • IDeasforLife: The National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Radiophysics and Electronics in Kharkiv, Ukraine, is creating an exciting mix of activities, from scientific lectures and tours of the Institute’s optical laboratory, to optics-focused quests for secondary and high-school students, and optics games for children.

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