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SPIE events highlight plans for International Day of Light

Following UNESCO’s proclamation, the global photonics community is gearing up to celebrate an International Day of Light

14 November 2017

UNESCO International Day of Light 16 May

BELLINGHAM, Washington, USA, and CARDIFF, UK —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 www.lightday.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 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.

Anne-Sophie Poulin-Girard

Anne-Sophie Poulin-Girard

"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 16 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.

The 16 May date coincides with the anniversary of the firing of the first operational laser, accomplished by Theodore Maiman in California in 1960.

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. Winners are:

Xingxingdiandeng, Rossi Fang

First-place prize ($2,500): Xingxingdiandeng by Rossi Fang of Kaohsiung City, Taiwan;
a shower of fireworks illuminating a hilltop, with the stars of the night sky above
Let There Be Light, Daniela Rapavá

Second-place prize ($1,000): Let There Be Light by Daniela Rapavá of Sobota, Slovakia;
light effects from a frozen bubble of detergent and sugar,
illustrating the colorful interactions of light and crystals
Creating Future, Sudipto Das

Third-place prize ($500): Creating Future by Sudipto Das of Kolkata, India;
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 $4 million in support of education and outreach programs. www.spie.org


Amy Nelson
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