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Showing posts from October, 2012

'At the origin of all life': UNESCO backs International Year of Light!

"Light is at the origin of all of life," proponents of the declaration of 2015 as the International Year of Light (IYOL) told the UNESCO Executive Board last week.

The board agreed at its meeting in Paris, giving its enthusiastic support to an international effort to recognize optics and photonics technologies through a year-long observance in 2015.
Although a final declaration by the UN General Assembly is not quite a done deal, the UNESCO support paves the way for a large-scale effort to raise awareness of the essential role light-based technologies play in driving industry and enhancing life.
Why is awareness so important?.
"The science and technology of light have revolutionized medicine, have opened up international communication via the Internet, and are central to linking cultural, economic and political aspects of global society," SPIE Fellow Paul Buah-Bassuah of Ghana’s Laser and Fibre Optics Centre at University of Cape Coast told the UNESCO board. Repr…

Mixing it up: science and politics


Sitting in a conference room, listening to Roger Angel (REhnu and College of Optical Sciences, University of Arizona) talk about how he is refocusing astronomicalinstrumentation to build highly efficient, cheaper solar cells, or watching Eva-Marie Sevick-Muraca (University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston) show the first-ever video of lymphatic flow inside a human being, or hearing Mario Paniccia (Intel) talk about the amazing advances in computing speed that are around the corner in silicon photonics … well, politics is perhaps not the first thing that comes to mind.
But politics definitely does come to mind at some point, and most scientists recognize the importance of the relationship between the two spheres. Today’s endorsement by 68 Nobel Prize winners in science of the candidacy of President Barack Obama for re-election is one illustration.


You can read what they said about their endorsement in a story in the NewYork Times.
Cut science first?

As to why they felt ins…

Green —and universal — photonics: 'Sustainable Energy for All'

It's estimated that three billion people — more than 40% of the world’s population — use wood, coal, charcoal, and other matter for cooking and heating and that 1.5 billion people lack access to electricity.

The human, social, economic, and environmental costs of this inequity are tremendous because energy is fundamental to health, safety, comfort, and progress for all seven billion people on Planet Earth.

Yet access to energy varies widely depending on whether people live in a wealthy or a poor country.

But more attention is being paid to this growing problem.

As Steve Eglash (Stanford University Energy and Environment Affiliates Program) and Kara Fisher (Duke University) write in the October issue of SPIE Professional, the optics and photonics community are finding sustainable ways to generate, convert, store, and use energy without destroying the planet.

The importance of sustainable energy was reinforced when the United Nations declared 2012 as the International Year o…