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Media Advisory 15-014

International Year of Light comes to Washington D.C. Sept. 12

Two events to celebrate achievements in science and engineering of light and light-based technologies, and raise awareness of contributions to humanity

light orb

Nearly two dozen interactive exhibits will allow hands-on learning about light.

August 26, 2015

This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

To promote the progress and promise of light research and education, leading U.S. science organizations will host two events on Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015, in Washington, D.C.

The events are organized by the National Science Foundation (NSF) in conjunction with the American Institute of Physics, the American Physical Society, the IEEE Photonics Society, the National Academy of Sciences, the Optical Society and the International Society for Optics and Photonics (SPIE).

The programs will mark the International Year of Light, a yearlong celebration of light science and its applications, as proclaimed by the United Nations.

These events will feature the latest in light-based technologies as well as leading scientists and educators to promote improved public understanding of the central role of light in the modern world.

Wonders of Light: Family Science Fun

What An educational event for school-age children with activities demonstrating the science of light
When 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. E.T. on Sept. 12
Where The Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian
Who Public and media are welcome; no RSVP required
The first 1,000 visitors will receive an International Year of Light tote bag.

Hands-on activities to include:

  • A LED-orb that changes color with music
  • Build-your-own kaleidoscope
  • An interactive video game
  • A green screen to be a reporter for a day

Light for a Better World: A Celebration of U.S. Innovation

What A public symposium and invitation-only reception
When 6 - 9 p.m. E.T. on Sept. 12
Where National Academy of Sciences
Who Media and invited guests
Interested members of the media, please email

This symposium will feature:

  • Eric Betzig, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, 2014 Nobel Prize Winner
  • France Córdova, National Science Foundation Director
  • Gerald Duffy, GE Lighting Manager
  • Michael Liehr, AIM Photonics CEO
  • Shuji Nakamura, University of California Santa Barbara, 2014 Nobel Prize Winner

About the International Year of Light
The International Year of Light and Light-Based Technologies (IYL 2015) is a global initiative adopted by the United Nations (A/RES/68/221) to raise awareness of how optical technologies promote sustainable development and provide solutions to worldwide challenges in energy, education, agriculture, communications and health. With UNESCO as lead agency, IYL 2015 programs will promote improved public and political understanding of the central role of light in the modern world while also celebrating noteworthy anniversaries in 2015--from the first studies of optics 1,000 years ago to discoveries in optical communications that power the Internet today.

For more information on the International Year of Light, please visit

For more information about NSF-funded light research and education, visit


Media Contacts
Sarah Bates, NSF, (703) 292-7738, email:

The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2021 budget of $8.5 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

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