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SPIE leaders in Paris IYL events celebrating art and science connections, Islamic contributions

10 November 2015

Augustin Fresnel: Art and Science at the Louvre
Augustin Fresenl, a scientist with
connections in the art world, was
celebrated in an International Year
of Light event at the Louvre,
cosponsored by l'École Polytechnique
Université Paris-Saclay.

SPIE President-Elect Robert Lieberman and CEO Eugene Arthurs participated in two recent events in Paris celebrating the International Year of Light (IYL).

On 2 November, Dr. Lieberman attended an IYL seminar on "The Nature of Light: Augustin Fresnel, his impact on Art and Science (1790-1900)" at the Louvre, co-organized by the museum and l'École Polytechnique Université Paris-Saclay.

The full-day seminar attracted nearly 500 people featured scientists including Nobel Physics Laureates Frank Wilczek of Massachusetts Institute of Technology and George Smoot of the Astro Particle and Cosmology lab of the Université Paris-Diderot and the University of California at Berkeley, art historians and curators, and dignitaries including Thierry Mandon, French Secretary of State for Higher Education and Research. SPIE was among the event sponsors.

Talks covered subjects ranging from cosmology (the emergence of photons shortly after the Big Bang) to art theory (Goethe's theory of color), and included psychophysics, photography, art history, and philosophy.

A highlight of the event was a round table discussion of the proposition that the emergence of the wave theory of light near the beginning of the 19th century radically altered the way in which artists thought about light, essentially giving rise to the Pre-Impressionist and Impressionist schools of painting.

In September, Dr. Arthurs was among international experts in research, technology, and education who spoke at the two-day International Conference on Ibn Al Haytham and the Future at the UNESCO headquarters. The event focused on the accomplishments of the Islamic civilization in its Golden Age (8th-15th centuries) and the life and works of Ibn Al Haytham, whose pioneering Book of Optics (Kitāb al-Manāẓir) was published around 1000 years ago.

A colocated exhibition showcased replicas and facsimiles of documents and works of scholars from the Islamic Golden Age, including a 17th-century microscope built by Leeuwenhoek in its first public showing.