Newswise — WASHINGTON, May 14, 2020 -- It is all around us and envelops our days and nights. Saturday, May 16, is a day to see how light influences our lives with the International Day of Light.

The celebration is a global initiative that provides an annual focal point for the continued appreciation of light and the role it plays in science, the economy, culture and art, education, and sustainable development, and in fields as diverse as medicine, communications and energy. May 16 commemorates the anniversary of the first successful operation of the laser in 1960 by physicist and engineer Theodore Maiman with virtual events hosted all around the world.

The American Institute of Physics is proud to be on the steering committee of this UNESCO-led initiative to celebrate the many ways that light impacts our world. AAIP is bringing together resources that examine light’s role in science, art, health and other areas on the AIP International Day of Light website.

  • AIP’s Center for History of Physics has an updated web exhibit of the history of the first lasers and about the discovery of different light-emitting devices. The Niels Bohr Library & Archives houses the stories of the International Year of Light, lasers and fiber optics in historical photographs and oral histories.
  • AIP publications Physics Today and Inside Science feature news articles about how light is used in electronic media, astronomy, health care and energy. The articles offer insight into how light is used in science and art to the benefit of everyone.
  • The Journal of Laser Applications, from LIA - The Laser Institute, has created a virtual collection of technical articles to highlight 60 years of laser innovation published in JLA. The articles from LIA, an AIP affiliate member, stretch back to 1988 and include recent research into the selective laser melting of stainless steel.
  • Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, The Optical Society, one of AIP’s member societies, is transitioning from in-person events to virtual events to communicate the importance of the science of light and light-based technologies. They are encouraging everyone to use social media to “share stories, history and research about the importance of the science of light in diagnosing and treating disease as well its general importance in our lives.”
  • Two special articles from AIP analyze how light has become a symbol of pride and how it helps us to peer into the past of our universe. Anthropologist and AIP science writer Savannah Mandel takes a sociocultural retrospective to understand the science behind rainbows. AIP science writer Anashe Bandari explains how the Hubble Space Telescope is allowing scientists to look at our early universe and see objects from only a few hundred million years after the Big Bang.

Light is a magnificent, powerful force in our lives, and everyone should take the time to #SeeTheLight on May 16.


About American Institute of Physics

The American Institute of Physics (AIP) is a 501(c)(3) membership corporation of scientific societies. AIP pursues its mission—to advance, promote, and serve the physical sciences for the benefit of humanity—with a unifying voice of strength from diversity. In its role as a federation, AIP advances the success of its Member Societies by providing the means to pool, coordinate, and leverage their diverse expertise and contributions in pursuit of a shared goal of advancing the physical sciences in the research enterprise, in the economy, in education, and in society. In its role as an institute, AIP operates as a center of excellence using policy analysis, social science, and historical research to promote future progress in the physical sciences.