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Spotlight on the International Year of Light (IYL 2015)

By James Dacey

As science-inspired global initiatives go, it’s fair to say that the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies (IYL 2015) burned brighter than its organizers could have imagined. IYL 2015 set out to raise awareness of the crucial roles light can play in areas such as sustainable development, education and health, and it did so through festivals, workshops, publications and a plethora of other activities. A final report published this week details some of IYL 2015’s key achievements and describes some of the year’s most memorable activities.

Among the highlights identified in the report is the Physics World film series “Light in our Lives”, a set of short documentaries about the role of light in people’s everyday lives. We commissioned the films as an official IYL 2015 media partner, embracing the collaborative and international dimensions of the year by working with filmmakers across the world. They include a film about how LED lanterns are enabling students to study after sunset in a rural community in India, and another about how lighting technologies are bringing a modern twist to Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico City (see above).

The full collection aired in February at a film festival that formed part of the IYL 2015 closing ceremony in Mérida, Mexico. You can watch them all here.

“I believe that everyone involved in IYL 2015 can feel immensely proud of what has been achieved,” writes John Dudley, optics researcher and chair of the IYL 2015 steering committee. The report also offers guidance to anyone hoping to run a similar global initiative in the future. “It is now up to us to build on what we have learned and what we have accomplished during 2015 to continue to work together for the betterment of all,” Dudley adds.

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