International Year of Light shines in Washington, DC

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Two events hosted in Washington, DC, by leading US science organizations including SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, on 12 September helped promote the progress and promise of light research and education. The programs marked the International Year of Light, and featured light-based technologies, scientists, and educators to promote improved public understanding of the central role of light.

The Radiance Orb, created by the Eugene, Oregon, company Light at Play, provided a dazzling demonstration of photonics in the weekend's events.

The Radiance Orb, created by the Eugene, Oregon, company Light at Play, provided a dazzling demonstration of photonics in the weekend's events.

Leading scientists and educators helped to promote improved public understanding of the central role of light in the modern world.

Two events hosted in Washington, DC, by leading US science organizations on Saturday 12 September helped promote the progress and promise of light research and education. The events were organized by the National Science Foundation (NSF) in conjunction with the American Institute of Physics, American Physical Society, IEEE Photonics Society, National Academy of Sciences, Optical Society, and SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics.

The programs marked the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies (IYL2015), a yearlong celebration of light science and its applications, as proclaimed by the United Nations for 2015.

These events featured the latest in light-based technologies as well as leading scientists and educators to promote improved public understanding of the central role of light in the modern world.

The daytime event, Wonders of Light: Family Science Fun, was held at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, and provided educational activities demonstrating the science of light for more than 500 school-age children and parents.

Hands-on activities included the LED-lighted Radiance Orb provided by Light at Play that changed color with music, an interactive video game using sensors, and a green screen to be a “science reporter for a day”.

The evening event, Light for a Better World: A Celebration of U.S. Innovation, was held at the National Academy of Sciences. France Córdova, National Science Foundation Director, gave the opening remarks in a public symposium attended by more than 200 people. Other talks were by:

  •     Shuji Nakamura, University of California Santa Barbara, 2014 Nobel Prize Winner, on "Development of the blue LED and some of the broader implications"
  •     Eric Betzig, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, 2014 Nobel Prize Winner, on "All things great and small: the role of telescopes and microscopes in understanding our universe and ourselves"
  •     Gerald Duffy, GE Lighting Manager, on "Solid state lighting: transforming our world"
  •     Michael Liehr, AIM Photonics CEO, on "The American Institute for Manufacturing Integrated Photonics (AIM Photonics) — what merging nanophotonics with electronics will do."

Video of the event will be posted this week on the SPIE website.

About The International Year of Light

The International Year of Light and Light-Based Technologies (IYL 2015) is a global initiative adopted by the United Nations (A/RES/68/221) to raise awareness of how optical technologies promote sustainable development and provide solutions to worldwide challenges in energy, education, agriculture, communications and health. With UNESCO as lead agency, IYL 2015 programs will promote improved public and political understanding of the central role of light in the modern world while also celebrating noteworthy anniversaries in 2015-from the first studies of optics 1,000 years ago to discoveries in optical communications that power the Internet today. The IYL Global Secretariat is located at the Abdus Salam International Centre of Theoretical Physics (ICTP).

Founding Partners of IYL 2015 are the American Institute of Physics (AIP), American Physical Society (APS), Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft (DPG), European Physical Society (EPS), Abdus Salam International Centre of Theoretical Physics (ICTP), IEEE Photonics Society (IPS), the Institute of Physics (IOP), Light: Science and Applications, the lightsources.org International Network, 1001 Inventions, the Optical Society (OSA), and SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics.

Patron Sponsors include Bosca, the International Association of Lighting Designers (IALD), Royal Philips Lighting, ThorLabs, and UL.

For more information on the International Year of Light, please visit, http://www.light2015.org.

About the NSF

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2015, its budget is $7.3 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives about 48,000 competitive proposals for funding, and makes about 11,000 new funding awards. NSF also awards about $626 million in professional and service contracts yearly.

For more information about NSF-funded light research and education, visit NSF.gov/light.

About SPIE

SPIE is the international society for optics and photonics, an educational not-for-profit organization founded in 1955 to advance light-based science and technology. The Society serves nearly 264,000 constituents from approximately 166 countries, offering conferences and their published proceedings, continuing education, books, journals, and the SPIE Digital Library in support of interdisciplinary information exchange, professional networking, and patent precedent. SPIE provided more than $4 million in support of education and outreach programs in 2014. SPIE is a Founding Partner of the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies and a Founding Sponsor of the US National Photonics Initiative. http://www.spie.org

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