International Year of Light 2015_

This International Year has been the initiative of a large consortium of scientific bodies together with UNESCO, and will bring together many different stakeholders including scientific societies and unions, educational institutions, technology platforms, non-profit organizations and private sector partners.

In proclaiming an International Year focusing on the topic of light science and its applications, the United Nations has recognized the importance of raising global awareness about how light-based technologies promote sustainable development and provide solutions to global challenges in energy, education, agriculture and health. Light plays a vital role in our daily lives and is an imperative cross-cutting discipline of science in the 21st century. It has revolutionized medicine, opened up international communication via the Internet, and continues to be central to linking cultural, economic and political aspects of the global society.

As the Chairman of the IYL 2015 Steering Committee John Dudley explains: « An International Year of Light is a tremendous opportunity to ensure that international policymakers and stakeholders are made aware of the problem-solving potential of light technology. We now have a unique opportunity to raise global awareness of this.”

Historically, the year 2015 will also coincide with a remarkable number of significant anniversaries in the science and applications of light – starting with the early work on optics by the Islamic scholar Ibn Al-Haytham in 1015, and including the notion of light as a wave proposed by Fresnel in 1815, and the electromagnetic theory of light propagation proposed by Maxwell in 1865.

More recent anniversaries include Einstein’s theory of the photoelectric effect in 1905, followed by his embedding of light in cosmology through general relativity in 1915, and culminating with the discovery of the cosmic microwave background by Penzias and Wilson in 1965 that provided evidence to support the “Big Bang” cosmological theory.

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