The International Day of Light 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.
The message of 2021 International Day of Light is “Trust Science”
- The IDL is administered from the International Basic Science Programme (IBSP) of UNESCO, and its Secretariat is located at the Abdus Salam International Centre of Theoretical Physics (ICTP) at Trieste, Italy.
- The day celebrates the role light plays in science, culture and art, education, and sustainable development, and in fields as diverse as medicine, communications, and energy, thus helping achieve the UNESCO goals of education, equality, and peace.
- The LASER is a perfect example of how a scientific discovery can yield revolutionary benefits to society in communications, healthcare and many other fields.
Why is the IDL celebrated?
- In 2015, to raise global awareness of the achievements of light science and its applications, the UN observed the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies 2015 (IYL 2015).
- The event helped establish links and collaborations between decision-makers, industry leaders, scientists, artists, social businesses, NGOs, and the public at large.
- Following the success of IYL 2015, Ghana, Mexico, New Zealand and Russia placed a resolution before the UNESCO Executive Board supporting the idea of an International Day of Light.
- It was adopted on September 19, 2016, at the Board’s 200th session at the UNESCO HQ in Paris, France.
- The Board decision was endorsed by the UNESCO General Conference at its 39th session on November 7, 2017.
- The first IDL was held on May 16, 2018.
Theodore Harold Maiman:
- Theodore Harold Maiman (July 11, 1927 – May 5, 2007) was an American engineer and physicist who is widely credited with the invention of the laser.
- His laser led to the subsequent development of many other types of lasers.
- The laser was successfully fired on May 16, 1960.
- In a July 7, 1960 press conference in Manhattan, Maiman and his employer, Hughes Aircraft Company, announced the laser to the world.
- Maiman was granted a patent for his invention.
- He received many awards and honors for his work.
- His experiences in developing the first laser and subsequent related events are recounted in his book, The Laser Odyssey, republished recently under a new title The Laser Inventor: Memoirs of Theodore H. Maiman.