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AIP Celebrates Inaugural International Day of Light

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On May 16, 1960, engineer and physicist Theodore Maiman successfully fired the first laser. On May 16, 2018, a global initiative led by UNESCO is commemorating the date as the International Day of Light. 

Throughout history, human have relied on light to learn about the world. Thousands of years after ancient civilizations constructed monuments aligning with the constellations, astronomers today are still looking into the same glowing night sky to learn about our universe. The study of light also has given us telescopes and microscopes, X-ray machines and cameras, television screens and electric lights, transforming our society in extraordinary ways.

From the internet to smartphones, the technologies of light have impacted every aspect of our modern-day life. The development of fiber optics gave us the speed to stream high-definition media from the Internet, and the invention of LEDs brought us solar powered lamps efficient enough for children from areas without access to electric grids to study well into the night.

Light is a magnificent, powerful force in our lives, and we’re proud to be on the steering committee of this UNESCO initiative to celebrate the many ways that light impacts our world. Celebrate with the American Institute of Physics by viewing some of our most popular resources on light below.

Naked Eyes by NONOTAK: Celebration of Light

Explore a dreamlike environment of Naked Eyes: Celebration of Light, the first U.S. solo exhibition from the world-renowned artist studio Nonotak. This audio-visual light exhibition celebrates light with four unique installations. The light has been sculpted, contained, diffused, projected and reflected so naked eyes can enjoy the three dimensionality of it.

The American Institute of Physics worked with The Optical Society and the American Physical Society to bring Naked Eyes to ARTECHOUSE, an art gallery in Washington, D.C., through June 30. The exhibition is an effort to help connect the science and artistry of light for visitors of the art space. Attendees can explore the innovative uses and science behind the mediums and technology used. 

For more information about the exhibition please visit


Celebrate the International Day of Light by viewing some of AIP’s most popular resources about light:

Center for History of Physics Resources
The First Laser Exhibit
Lesson Plans on “Light” for Educators
Lesson Plans on “Spectroscopy” for Educators

Physics Today Resources
The power of imaging with phase, not power
Photonic doping tunes transparent media
Microscopy without lenses
Boosting solar energy conversion with nanofluids
Photoacoustic imaging beats the diffraction limit
Imaging black holes

Sigma Pi Sigma/Society of Physics Students Resources
Light, the Nexus in Physics
Demo – Light Fountain
Demo – Polarizing Light
Entire Demo Kit on Light

Inside Science Resources
The Science and Art of Light
A One-Way Street for Light
Folding Objects with Light
How Far Can Laser Light Travel

Niels Bohr Library & Archives Resources
Photos of the Month, May 2018 – Holographic Horizons
Photos of the Month, January 2015 – International Year of Light
Jeff Hecht interviews for his book, City of Light: The story of Fiber Optics 1993-1996

For more information, please contact: 
Media Services
American Institute of Physics
+1 301-209-3090