LIGHT: Beyond the Bulb is an open-source exhibition program that showcases the incredible variety of light-based science being researched today across the electromagnetic spectrum, scientific disciplines and technological platforms. The exhibit is designed to show participants “some examples of the myriad of wonderful things that light can do, and how it plays a critical role in our lives every day.”
With its vital role in our daily lives, light is a critical cross-cutting scientific discipline of the 21st century. It has “revolutionized medicine, opened up international communication via the Internet, and continues to be central to linking cultural, economic and political aspects of the global society.”
Truly striking images and materials for the international exhibition were crowd-sourced and expert curated for science content, high-quality printability, stunning beauty and ability to engage wide audiences, including individuals who might not typically identify with science. The program is part of the 2015 International Year of Light (IYL2015), which consists of coordinated activities on national, regional and international levels. Activities are planned so that people of all ages and all backgrounds can gain an appreciation for the central role of light in science and culture, and as a cross-cutting scientific discipline that can advance sustainable development.
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As the LIGHT: Beyond the Bulb Web site explains, “The glow of a candle, the rise of the Sun, and the illumination of a lamp are things that can bring comfort and warmth to our lives. Humans are, after all, drawn to light. But there is more to light, quite literally, than meets the eye. Light takes on many forms — from radio waves to microwaves to X-rays and more — that are largely invisible and undetectable without modern technology. Light in all of its forms allows us to communicate, entertain, explore and understand the world we inhabit and the Universe we live in.”
In proclaiming an International Year focusing on the topic of light science and its applications, the United Nations has recognized the importance of raising global awareness about how light-based technologies promote sustainable development and provide solutions to global challenges in energy, education, agriculture and health. Based on an award-winning “proof of concept” platform From Earth to the Universe from the International Year of Astronomy 2009, Light: Beyond the Bulb is working to offer wide international reach, high visibility and improved public awareness on the science of light.
This project kicked off the year with creation of an online repository of high-quality, easy-to-reproduce science images of light. Their respective captions relate an interesting and relevant story about the science of light. The online repository was the first step toward setting up image exhibitions throughout IYL2015 in different geographical locations, including the opening ceremonies that took place in January at UNESCO in Paris and an airport exhibit for San Francisco. The core image collection can be viewed on the project Web site, as well as on Pinterest, and members of the public are encouraged to suggest new images to add.
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Light: Beyond the Bulb was developed by the Chandra X-ray Center (CXC), at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO), in Cambridge, MA, with major support and funding from SPIE (the international society for optics and photonics), and also the International Astronomical Union.
Approximately 175 Light: Beyond the Bulb locations have signed up for exhibits across over 30 countries, including the O’Hare Airport in Chicago, the Village Baykal in Dolna Mitropolia, Bulgaria, the St. Ignatius College Siggiewi Primary school in Siggiewi, Malta, the K11 Art Mall in Shanghai, China, and the Galway Astronomy Festival in Ireland. Find the full exhibit list at http://lightexhibit.org/iylexhibits.html?