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Blog

Towards a ‘Year of Light’

Varenna
Varenna seen from Lake Como (CC BY-SA/Idéfix)

By Louise Mayor

One of the good things about being a science journalist is getting to travel to the same places as all the jammy scientists.

This week I’m heading over to Varenna – an idyllic town on the shores of Lake Como, Italy. If the name of the lake sounds familiar, that might be because it’s famous as a filming location for Casino Royale and Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, and it apparently has villas belonging to the likes of George Clooney, Sting and Richard Branson.

But I’m not going for the views, the laid-back atmosphere, the fabulous food and the wine – well okay, just a bit. This Friday 16 September, Varenna will host Passion for Light, an international workshop jointly arranged by the European and Italian physical societies (EPS and SIF, which will launch the idea of an International Year of Light (IYOL) in 2015.

Other recent “international years” with a scientific theme have included physics (2005), astronomy (2009) and chemistry (this year). Huge successes have been reported, with the International Year of Astronomy having at least 815 million participants in 148 countries.

But you needn’t be in Varenna to stay in the loop; on Friday you can tune in to a live, streamed video of the one-day event at the Passion for Light webpage.

Opening addresses will kick off at 9.30 a.m. (CEST) led by Luisa Cifarelli, president of EPS-SIF (previously interviewed in this physicsworld.com video.

The rest of the day sees an all-star cast of 11 scientists talking about the role of light in many diverse areas of physics, with speakers including Nobel-prize-winners Ted Hänsch and Claude Cohen-Tannoudji. The full line-up of scientific talks is available here.

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