International Year of Light illuminates Paris

IYL2015 logo

International Year of Light is well underway, with the official opening ceremony held at UNESCO headquarters in Paris on 19 and 20 January. CUDOS Director, Professor Benjamin Eggleton, who attended the event, gives his account of ceremony and its significance to the photonics community.

The opening ceremony for the International Year of Light was a two-day celebration of the wonderful and diverse ways in which human society is uplifted by our interaction with light. The ceremony was most aptly held at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, a city known for centuries as The City of Light.

UNESCO itself was founded in the aftermath of World War Two as an organization designed to build lasting world peace by encouraging all of humankind to work in solidarity towards a common future where democracy, development and human dignity are available to all. UNESCO strives to achieve this goal by promoting education as a human right, fostering intercultural understanding, pursuing scientific cooperation and protecting freedom of expression.
Over the two days participants were led through this journey by a range of people who have made understanding light the focus of their life’s work. In line with UNESCO’s goals, the organizers put together an event that celebrated the scientific, economic and social impacts of how light is used, offering a fascinating overview of the way a seemingly small innovation in one area can have profound impact in the lives of many.

Presentations ranged from Nobel Prize winners explaining how our understanding of light informs our understanding of the foundations of the cosmos, to grassroots workers showing how bringing eyeglasses to isolated African villages or light into the homes of the poorest slum dwellers can fundamentally change human lives for the better. It was a rare and wonderful opportunity for all of us to lift our focus from the specifics of our own work and see the way that science interconnects with human societies around the globe.

This diversity in the presentations gave rise to stimulating conversations of the intersection of physics, technology, development and society. The International Year of Light asks us to expand our intellectual horizons when we consider the impact of our work.

Over the next twelve months, there will be a host of activities, festivals and events across Australia to celebrate importance of light in our daily lives. CUDOS, a gold sponsor of International Year of Light, have organised a year long series of events and will be focusing on developing it’s International Outreach resources, teaching photonics science to schools students. The inventor of the Quantum Cascade Laser, Harvard University’s Professor Federico Capasso will be at the University of Sydney on 17 March for CUDOS’s first International Year of Light event, the Peter Domachuk Memorial Lecture.

UNESCO Paris Opening Ceremony IYL

The opening ceremony:UNESCO headquarters, Paris.

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CUDOS is funded by the Australian Research Council under the Centres of Excellence Program , with further support from our seven constituent universities, fifteen partner investigators, and the New South Wales State Government.

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Research Highlights
Coming Up

11 - 14 November 2014

ACP 2014
Shanghai, China

23 - 28 November 2014

KOALA 2014
Adelaide, SA

2 - 5 December, 2014

OSA Light, Energy and the Environment Congress
Canberra, ACT

4 - 5 December 2014

OPTIC 2014
Taichung, Taiwan

4 - 5 December 2014

2nd International Workshop on Hyperbolic Metamaterials
Australian National University, Canberra

7-11 December 2014

AIP 2014
Canberra, ACT

13-16 December 2014

Photonics 2014
Kharagpur, India