SPIE Events Highlight Plans for International Day of Light

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The UNESCO General Conference today proclaimed 16 May as an annual International Day of Light, and organizations including SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, are rolling out plans to mark the day. SPIE has announced winners in its first International Day of Light photo contest and is accepting applications from members of the society for micro-grants to fund IDL-related projects in their communities.

Rossi Fang won the first SPIE IDL photo contest, with "Xingxingdiandeng."

Rossi Fang won the first SPIE IDL photo contest, with "Xingxingdiandeng."

The world will be our stage for demonstrating the many ways in which light-based technologies are essential.

With the declaration this month of an annual International Day of Light, SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, is enthusiastically joining organizations around the world in preparation of activities to celebrate the observance.

Today, the 39th Session of the UNESCO General Conference proclaimed 16 May as the International Day of Light (IDL), as an enduring follow-on to UNESCO’s highly successful International Year of Light (IYL) in 2015. The global initiative will emphasize to the citizens of the world the importance of light and light-based technologies in their lives, for their futures, and for the development of society. Outreach and education activities in the IYL reached more than 100 million people in more than 140 countries. (More information is in a press release from the IDL steering committee at wwwlightday.org.)

Starting this year, SPIE is sponsoring an annual International Day of Light photo contest (photos from 2017 winners and other participants are posted at http://www.spie.org/IDL). The goal of the contest is to raise awareness about IDL and the vital role that light and light-based technologies play in daily life. The 2018 IDL photo contest will open 16 May and close 20 September.

Also, in a program open to society members, SPIE will fund micro-grants up to $3,000 for projects taking place during May 2018 that highlight applications of light-based technologies in individual lives and in communities around the world. Applications are due 15 December.

“Establishing an annual high-profile day is an unmatchable opportunity for the optics and photonics community to celebrate and to inform others about the role of light in all our lives. On this day, the world will be our stage for demonstrating the many ways in which light-based technologies are essential to a variety of fields, from healthcare to space exploration, to community safety and sustainable energy — just to name a few,” said Anne-Sophie Poulin-Girard (Université Laval), chair of the SPIE Education Committee.

Above all, noted Poulin-Girard, this event will enable the photonics community to share with young people and the general public the fascination with the scientific principles of light.

“Thanks to the efforts of volunteers and organizations, activities funded through SPIE’s IDL micro-grants program will engage people in communities all over the world, and the images collected through the SPIE photo contest will serve as an inspiration to many more,” she said. “I hope that each person’s participation will be a reflection of his or her enthusiasm towards optics and photonics. Together, this diversity will be a perfect way to celebrate the very first International Day of Light on 16 May 2018.”

A flagship inauguration featuring Nobel Laureates and leaders in areas of education, industry, design, and lighting will take place on 16 May 2018 at UNESCO headquarters in Paris, France. John Dudley (Université de Franche-Comté) is serving at IDL 2018 steering committee chair.

Photographers from India, Slovakia, and Taiwan were named winners of the 2017 SPIE photo contest, from more than 950 entries depicting the world-of-light theme.

The first-place prize of $2,500 went to Rossi Fang of Kaohsiung City, Taiwan, for “Xingxingdiandeng,” a photograph of a shower of fireworks illuminating a hilltop, with the stars of the night sky above.

Daniela Rapavá of Sobota, Slovakia, won the second-place prize of $1,000 for her photo “Let There Be Light,” of the light effects from a frozen bubble of detergent and sugar. The image illustrates the colorful interactions of light and crystals.

The third-place prize of $500 went to Sudipto Das of Kolkata, India, for “Creating Future,” his image of a woman proudly displaying her solar-powered lamp.

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, engineering, 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 2016, SPIE provided more than $4 million in support of education and outreach programs. http://www.spie.org

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