News

International Year of Light illuminates Paris.


4 February 2015


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 the significance of International Year of Light on 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.

Professor Ben Eggleton at the opening of the International Year of Light 2015
Professor Ben Eggleton at the opening of the International Year of Light 2015

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. - Professor Ben Eggleton

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 Frederico 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.

The Eiffel tower in the City of light for the opening of the International Year of Light 2015
The Eiffel tower in the City of light for the opening of the International Year of Light 2015

During some of the presentations at the opening of the International Year of Light
During some of the presentations at the opening of the International Year of Light

UNESCO Headquarters for the opening of the International Year of Light
UNESCO Headquarters for the opening of the International Year of Light


Contact: Tom Gordon

Phone: 9351 3201

Email: 022a250504175d355d022b3934313933184d14501d631b2f