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