On 9 October 2015 the German Physical Society (DPG) organized a meeting between National Node representatives of the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies 2015 (IYL 2015) at the Magnus Haus in Berlin, Germany. The focus of the meeting was to exchange best practices examples of IYL 2015 activities and events, resulting sustainable development and possible further cooperative actions for the future.
Dr. Lutz Moeller (German UNESCO Commission) welcomed the participants of the event and highlighted the importance of initiatives such as the International Years declared by the United Nations to create greater visibility for the themes celebrated.
After a presentation about the history of the Magnus Haus by Prof. Ingolf Hertel, David Lee, the Secretary General of the European Physical Society (EPS), presented the involvement of EPS as a Founding partner of IYL 2015 and the lessons learnt by the society during the path prior to the declaration of IYL 2015. Finding the right champion to move forward the initiative and obtain the endorsements of different organizations and the final approval by the United Nations, working following the steps of previous international initiatives, planning things way ahead or bringing together all important international stakeholders in the topic were some of all the lessons shared by the EPS Secretary General. And he is someone that is able to provide some guidance in this matter since it is the second participation of EPS on the organization of one of these global initiatives after the World Year of Physics 2005 that celebrated 100 years of Einstein’s Annus Mirabilis.
My intervention was focused on the GalileoMobile project as an example of an initiative that was born during the International Year of Astronomy 2009 (IYA2009) – it was originated as a one-time-only project to perform astronomical activities in schools in South America for IYA2009 – and has outlived its initial purpose to become a consolidated project that also contributes to IYL 2015 activities. These activities related to IYL 2015 are the documentary Light-Year and Constellation: GalileoMobile’s most ambitious project so far. Constellation is a project endorsed by the International Astronomical Union IYL 2015 Cosmic Light Programme that is organizing a network of 18 schools on seven South American countries to work remotely with them during the year and organize five simultaneous expeditions to visit them before the end of 2015.
Following up my talk, Toby Shannon, IYL 2015 UK Coordinator at Institute of Physics, shared the activities carried out by the IYL 2015 UK National node during the year. From the IYL 2015-themed decoration of the UK’s Prime Minister Christmas tree at Downing Street to the participation on the iSPEX-EU campaign to measure air pollution in London with smartphones, the IYL 2015 has been widely celebrated on the UK.
Prof. Cather Simpson, IYL 2015 National Node New Zealand, talked about the activities organized all over the country. Most notably, the Illuminating New Zealand Event, a week of full of activities organized by universities and museums across the country that worked together to bring the magic of light to school children and other museum-goers, as well as the Ten by Ten Luminaries series, where outstanding speakers are presenting different aspects of light around the country.
Prof. Arnulf Quadt walked us through a year full of IYL 2015 activities in Germany, with around 700 events so far. Highlights included the Opening Ceremony at the Deutsches Museum in Munich, the participation of thousands of people on the Festival Highlights of Physics in Jena and a school competition organized together with the German Space Agency (DLR) to inspire teenagers for physics and technology in a hands-on fashion. The year will be closed with the Physics in the advent season competition and the German Closing Ceremony in Berlin on 27 November.
Dr. Zahid Khan closed the event with a breakdown of the IYL 2015 activities in India. From the 130 activities registered on the IYL Event Programme, he showed that the majority of them were dedicated to Academic & Research topics and Outreach. He highlighted the activities of the Story of Light Festival and the Conference Life & Contribution of Ibn Al-Haitham organized by the Ibn Al Haytham Working Group. To conclude his talk, he stressed that most of the activities organized in India have been bottom-up and that was difficult in a large country like India to have a central organization to organize country-wide activities as the other participants of the event.
As a conclusion of the event it was addressed that more events like this one are needed to know the activities that are happening in other countries and create the appropriate networks. All the participants agreed that it is of uttermost importance to take advantage of the momentum generated by IYL 2015 and that this should be channelled to create an everlasting legacy for the benefit of society.
Jorge Rivero González (@jorgegrivero) was born in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain. He is a science communicator working at the European Physical Society (EPS) as the EPS IYL 2015 Outreach Officer. He is also IYL 2015 Press Officer and editor of the IYL 2015 blog. Before that he spent four years living in Munich while he was doing his PhD in Astrophysics at the University Observatory Munich. Since 2009 he is a member of the science outreach programme GalileoMobile.