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Lasers & Sources

Ahmed Zewail IYL Presentation: Light and Life

A Nobel plenary lecture from the International Year of Light opening ceremony in Paris.

19 February 2015, SPIE Newsroom. DOI: 10.1117/3.201502.21

Light was an integral part of the creation of the universe. For millions of years, light has defined the life of Homo sapiens. Through photosynthesis, light has given us food, energy, and the atmosphere. Using light we communicate information, see the big objects (planets and moons) far from us in the vault of the heavens, and see the small microscopic objects (cells and bacteria) our naked eye cannot resolve. Our life becomes invisible without light.

Ahmed Zewail is the Linus Pauling Chair professor of chemistry and physics, and director of the Center for Physical Biology at the California Institute of Technology (USA).

He received the 1999 Nobel Prize for the development of the field of Femtochemistry. In 2009, President Barack Obama appointed him to the Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, and he became the first U.S. Science Envoy to the Middle East. He is also a member of the Scientific Advisory Board established by the United Nations Secretary-General. Among other developments, his efforts led to the establishment of Zewail City of Science and Technology in Egypt.