Closing ceremonies mark end of International Year of Light

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The United Nations-proclaimed International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies (IYL2015) will be brought to an official close with a ceremony to be held in Mérida, Mexico from 4 to 6 February 2016.

The International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies 2015 (IYL 2015) has been a successful global initiative with thousands of events reaching millions of people in more than one hundred countries.  

The closing ceremony in Mexico will review all key themes of the year, and discuss the main activities and events that took places worldwide to raise awareness of the importance of light-based technologies in providing solutions to worldwide challenges in areas such as energy, education, communications and health.

A plethora of activities have been organised for the ceremony, from Nobel Prize Laureates John Mather and Shuji Nakamura giving public lectures, to local and international artists creating urban light projects throughout the city to reflect the phenomenon of light.

In January, other cities across the globe celebrated the end of the IYL2015. The Japanese closing ceremony was held at the Tokyo University of Science Morito Memorial Hall on 11 January. In this overview symposium, a set of nearly 40 groups and different activities were gathered, and almost 100 participants summarised the IYL 2015 Japanese efforts in the astronomy field, focusing on education and new nationwide outreach initiatives.  

The symposium reported on the various actions Japan has taken to address light pollution during the IYL2015, which included a light down event, the monitoring of night sky brightness, and creating light pollution maps through the use of smart phone apps. 

The UK’s celebrations included a three-part extravaganza held at the Royal Society in London at the end of January. The day included light-inspired workshops and activities for 400 primary school students, a lecture by scientist, TV and radio personality Professor Jim Al-Khalili for 300 secondary school pupils, and a formal closing for professors and scientists working in the photonics sector. Afterwards, a laser show lit up the London skyline, including the local landmarks, the London Eye, Houses of Parliament and Pall Mall.

During the closing event in Mexico, Elizabeth Rogan, CEO of The Optical Society (OSA), will unveil the organisation’s ‘century of optics’ exhibit, part of a year-long, global programme to promote the society’s 100th anniversary.  

‘Every day around the world, optical technologies help improve the quality of life – from powering cutting-edge surgeries to generating clean energy the science of light impacts nearly every facet of our modern economy,’ said Rogan. ‘As a founding sponsor, we commend the IYL 2015 steering committee and the optics community for their time and dedication to ensuring that the International Year of Light raised global awareness for the science of light.’

Throughout 2015, The Optical Society hosted a number of global events to bring together and study the science of light. The OSA Foundation distributed more than 2,500 Light BLOX Education Kits to around 40 countries, impacting up to 75,000 students and teachers. The Light BLOX Education Kit provides students with hands-on activities that introduce them to the science of light. These events and educational efforts will be the lasting impact of the International Year of Light.

Related stories 

100 years of innovation: The Optical Society (OSA) is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2016. Electro Optics spoke to Dr Gregory Quarles, chief scientist at OSA, on 100 years of optics and photonics, and what the next 100 years holds for the industry

Further information 

IYL 2015