International Day of Light : Shining a Light on Global Cooperation and Discovery

Today marks the 5th annual International Day of Light, a worldwide celebration shining a spotlight on the vital role that light and light-based technologies play in our lives and for the future of sustainable development.

Established by the United Nations in 2018, the International Day of Light commemorates the anniversary of the first successful operation of the laser in 1960 by physicist and engineer, Theodore Maiman. This milestone invention sparked a scientific revolution, paving the way for countless light-based technologies that have transformed our society.

"Light lies at the heart of scientific discoveries that shape our lives," said Dr. Sarah Anyang Agbor, the African Union Commissioner for Education, Science, Technology and Innovation. "From optical fibers that have enabled global communications to the lasers used in medicine and manufacturing, harnessing light has been key to solving many development challenges."

Global Illumination

This year's International Day of Light theme is "Lighting up the Future with Optics and Photonics." Events and activities across the globe aim to inspire students to pursue careers in these fields while raising awareness of how photonics can advance sustainable development and address issues like affordable healthcare, climate change monitoring, internet connectivity and more.

In Paris, a dazzling light show and interactive exhibits at the Louvre illustrate the International Day of Light's mission to promote science for peace and sustainable development. Similar events showcasing light technology are taking place in over 100 countries worldwide.

The Dubai Light Sustainability Exhibition is displaying cutting-edge solar energy technologies along with immersive light-based art installations highlighting renewable solutions. In Nairobi, free public lectures and hands-on optics workshops are being held to engage Kenya's youth with the wonders of photonics.

A Brilliant Future

By 2030, the global photonics market is projected to be worth over $780 billion according to market researchers. Yet there remains a shortage of skilled photonics professionals to meet this rising demand and fully realize light's problem-solving potential.

"We need to attract more students, especially young women, to careers in light-based sciences and technologies," urged Nobel Physics Laureate Donna Strickland. "The photonics revolution is only just beginning, with innovations in quantum computing, bio-imaging, clean energy and so much more just over the horizon."

By showcasing light's indispensable role in sustainable development and cutting-edge research, the International Day of Light 2024 seeks to build a brighter, more equitable future for people and planet alike. After all, where would we be without light?


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