International Day of Light

Light plays a central role in our lives. On the most fundamental level, through photosynthesis, light is at the origin of life itself. The study of light has led to promising alternative energy sources, lifesaving medical advances in diagnostics technology and treatments, light-speed internet and many other discoveries that have revolutionized society and shaped our understanding of the universe.
The International Day of Light (IDL) is celebrated on 16 May each year, the anniversary of the first successful operation of the laser in 1960 by physicist and engineer, Theodore Maiman. This day is a call to strengthen scientific cooperation and harness its potential to foster peace and sustainable development.
The International Day of Light celebrates the role light plays in science, culture and art, education, and sustainable development, and in fields as diverse as medicine, communications, and energy. The celebration will allow many different sectors of society worldwide to participate in activities that demonstrates how science, technology, art and culture can help achieve the goals of UNESCO – building the foundation for peaceful societies.

>Read more on the UNESCO website

>Explore all the events for the next International Day of Light in 2021

Annual Photo Contest organized by SPIE

In 2018, SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, launches a competition. The contest is held to raise awareness about IDL and the vital role that light and light-based technologies play in daily life.
In 2019, photographers from Russia, the United States, and Spain were named winners of the contest, from more than 1,000 entries depicting the world-of-light theme. For the first time, sponsored the category technology and science and is delighted to congratulate the winning photographer Sergio Ruiz who took a stunning picture at ALBA Synchrotron in Spain (article below).

We are now in our 3rd year of sponsoring the photo contest organised by SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, for the International Day of Light.

Last year’s winner of the technology and science category was João Martins, a PhD student from Portugal, for his
image entitled The Connections That Make Us!

This stunning image (see above) is of a zebrafish that has been genetically modified to express a fluorescent protein on
a subpopulation of neurons (chrna4-expressing neurons – shown in green). This allows researchers to study specific
structures, how they develop, and how they work during a specific behaviour. The zebrafish (Danio rerio) is a cyprinid
fish found throughout Southern Asia as well as in pet stores around the globe. Around 70% of its genes are shared with
humans, making zebrafish larvae an ideal model for studies in genetics, development and neuroscience.

In 2021, we are sponsoring two categories so participants can submit both science images and technology images.
The competition is open to both professional and amateur photographers, along with those generating science images
via visible and invisible light microscopes, so do spread the word within your communities.

>Enter the 2021 contest – entries open until the 16th September