Happy International Year of Light to you all!

3 June 2015

It's ok if you didn't know - we're all very busy - but 2015 is the UNESCO International Year of Light (and Light-Based Technologies).

Let's be honest, light rocks! There's still a lot we don't know about it, and we are constantly striving to harness more of its potential, but the centrality of light to human existence can't be doubted.

One of the most enjoyable events I've convened as the University's Ambassador for Mathematics and Science was 'Enlighten: Our brightest minds reveal how light transforms your life'. The event occurred in late May in the Great Hall and showcased the research of six of the University's best and brightest who work with light.

Astrophysicist Dr Tara Murphy spoke on working on the Square Kilometre Array; psychologist Professor Bart Anderson blew minds with his optical illusions; illumination designer Associate Professor Wendy Davis talked about lighting the homes of the future; biologist Professor Min Chen shared the hidden potential of light in photosynthesis; robotics engineer Dr Ariell Friedman spoke on light in the darkest recesses of the deep ocean; and optical physicist Dr Darren Hudson 'Mr mid-infrared fibre laser' took the packed audience on a journey through what light means to us.

A highlight of the night was that outside the Great Hall, the annual Vivid Sydney festival of light and sound was in full swing and as we adjourned to the cloisters to sample some of the hands-on activities and displays of our speaker's work, members of the public unaware of the event we'd hosted walked on through and took part. Trust me, seeing yourself in infrared light never gets dull!

This was a perfect example to me of what our University does and must continue to do well. Not only are we a home for tremendous minds and research, we also recognise the importance of sharing that work with policymakers, friends of the University and the scientists of tomorrow.

In writing this piece, I am painfully aware that the event was tremendously oversubscribed and some of you reading this may well have missed out. Please don't feel aggrieved - I can assure you that there is a tremendous array of events run by the Faculty of Science that you might enjoy. For example on Wednesday 19 August 'Time After Time: Measuring evolution with molecular clocks' is happening as part of the Sydney Science Forum. Hop online at the Science Outreach website to find out more and get yourself a seat at this free event.

Anyway until we next meet, happy International Year of Light. Shine on!

Adam Spencer
Mathematics and Science Ambassador
University of Sydney