When was the last time you typed “Light” in the Google search bar? Can’t recall? Perhaps that’s because you did not. Light, being a topic that we have been studying ever since we were kids, doesn’t really entice one to especially look it up on the internet. That is until the topic of light surfaces as the theme of a special edition in a youth newspaper. That was exactly our aim, making the subject of light conspicuous and encourage the students to know the rather unknown about light in The Global Times (1), a registered student newspaper.
The first and foremost initiative undertaken as a part of the special edition was to decode why we are celebrating the International Year of Light. Not many children in India know that it is Ibn al-Haytham, dubbed as the ‘Father of Modern optics’ who brought light into our lives. Thereafter, students did a series of research work on the life of Ibn al-Haytham which were then converted into the top story of the edition. The story Ibn al-Haytham presented in very simple words was homage to this man who made outstanding contribution to the understanding of vision, optics and light.
If we looked for a quality that is fundamentally human and universal, our curiosity about the world that surrounds us would probably be it. This feeling peeps into young minds, it grows and flares, pushing us to know more, to break our limitations, to rise up from the ground into the shining eternity of the Universe. On this quest we might sometimes feel small, lost or bewildered, but we can also envision humankind as one people, united in a journey through the cosmos on this one-of-a-kind spaceship called Planet Earth.
Visiting a school of the Colombian part of Constellation. Credit: GalileoMobile.
Activities on light in indigenous communities at the Amazon, a big fair on science and light in Brasilia, with about 100,000 visitors, mostly children and young people, interactive exhibitions in public places in Rio de Janeiro, mobile science activities in the slums of large cities, experiments on light and solar energy in small villages in Minas Gerais or in the inner cities of the Northeast, conferences and debates on light based technologies in universities and schools. Many such activities were held in Brazil, throughout the year, to celebrate the IYL 2015.
Desana indian (Raimundo) in the National Week of S & T. Credit: FAPEAM.
Photonics is the science and technology of generating, controlling, and detecting photons. It underpins technologies of daily life from smartphones to laptops to the Internet to medical instruments to lighting technology. Businesses in the field of photonics and light-based technologies work on solving key societal challenges, such as energy generation and energy efficiency, healthy ageing of the population, climate change, and security. Photonic technologies have major impact on the world economy with a current global market of €300 billion and projected market value of over €600 billion in 2020. But most people around the world has no idea about what Photonics is. Therefore global initiatives such as the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies 2015 (IYL 2015) are of vital importance to bring Photonics closer to society.
Three European projects – GoPhoton!, Photonics4All and LIGHT2015 – share these goals to make Photonics a household word. Their aim is to raise awareness among the public, young people and entrepreneurs of what Photonics is, and how and why Photonics is an essential technology of the future. They want to inspire a new generation of young scientists using Photonics with hands-on activities to promote the excitement of Photonic science and to strengthen networking and collaborations across societies in Europe to promote the EU as the World Hub of Photonics.
Earlier this year, a simple afternoon drink with friends reminded me how light can be used as a context to teach science, from physics through to biology and chemistry.