Science community gears up for the International Year of Light

31 January 2014

Figures from across the science community and beyond came together at the Institute on 30 January to express their commitment to making 2015’s International Year of Light (IYL2015) a success.

The year came about via a UN resolution in December 2013 that marked a culmination of three years’ work to bring the international year into being. It has been co-sponsored by 35 countries around the world, and will involve participation in many more. The international committee will run a number of cornerstone projects while encouraging national committees to inspire celebrations at a more local level.

Speaking at the roundtable discussion, Prof. John Dudley, president of the European Physical Society and chairman of IYL2015, said: “There’s never been an international year that’s been so multidisciplinary in its scope. We have a resource base that’s enormous, but we have to bring it all together somehow around our small number of goals.”

To collaborate in successful planning for IYL2015, there were representatives from the Science Museum, the Royal Institution, a range of learned societies, scientific publishers like Nature Photonics and Physics World, a selection of research centres such as the Central Laser Facility and Diamond, and universities such as Imperial College London and the University of Glasgow.

They were joined at the meeting by others representing institutions from beyond the science community, such as Public Health England and the London School of Economics. Beth Taylor, the IOP’s director of communications and international relations, chaired the meeting to share the over-arching objectives for the year.

Highlighting the importance of light and light-based technologies, IYL2015 will see partners come together to promote the importance of light for quality of life and encourage action against light pollution, while incorporating the broader aims of sustainable development, education and empowerment of women.

While the national committees are forming, the international committee is already planning its first tranche of materials, which include promotional posters in the UN’s six international languages and a book of 100 suggestions for activities that can be organised to promote IYL2015.

A selection of the international committee’s cornerstone projects was shared by Prof. Dudley, including i-Light, an international competition calling on smartphone users to share photographs of interesting optical phenomena, and a photonics day, when photonics labs around the world will open their doors to public visitors.

Representatives at the meeting agreed to help comprise the UK’s national forum, which will feed ideas into a committee that coordinates IYL2015 in the UK. It is anticipated that the make-up of the national committee will be announced in the next couple of months.

If you would like further information, particularly if you would like to get involved, please email

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