Solar eclipse, Wigner-memorial site, light relay and a multitude of programs – those have happened so far in the International Year of Light and light-based technologies 2015 (IYL 2015) in Hungary.
The grand series of events organised in Hungary to commemorate the international year of light is nearing to an end, save a couple of exciting events due in the autumn. Here is a summary of the past events and the programs outstanding.
As initiated by the European Physical Society and supported by United Nations, 2015 was nominated as IYL 2015. Hungary has joined the initiative and had its opening ceremony in February where academician Róbert Kroó, the president of the program committee for the international year of light spoke about the significance of the five main pillars of the distinguished year, namely – science, education, industry, arts and international relations.
During the months that have passed since, schools, research centres and exhibition halls have followed suit and organised a great lot of programs at several hundred locations for those interested. In the spring, nature came to help out the organisers, because on March 20 a whole country or even a whole continent had the chance to see how the Moon „bit” a chunk out of the disk of the Sun. Associated with the phenomenon a number of schools staged academic programs in natural sciences, and those visiting the seat of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences were allowed to use the special, Sun observing telescopes of the Hungarian Association of Astronomers to observe images of the rare celestial phenomenon at a higher resolution.
In the middle of April the Roland Eötvös Physical Society (ELFT) organised nationwide spectacular demonstrations and experiments in Physics, the “walking rainbow‟ and many more exciting shows for the visitors in more than thirty towns on the opening day of the series of programs called “Physics – we all own it”. The event was kick-started at the ELTE Lágymányos Campus by Norbert Kroó, the President of the Program Committee for the International Year of Light, the honorary president of ELFT too.
Less than a week passed and another festive opportunity rose for the lovers of Physics: the European Physical Society (EPS) inaugurated a memorial site for Physics to honour Jenő Wigner, a Nobel Prize Winner physicist in his beloved high school, the Fasori Evangélikus Gimnázium. „In the history of EPS-memorial sites that was the first plaque inaugurated on school grounds. After the erection of a similar plaque at the Nuclear Research Institute of the Hungarian Academy of Science in Debrecen this is now a second location for Physics in Hungary”, Luisa Cifarelli, a former president of EPS and a professor of the University of Bologna said at the inauguration event on April 23.
The festive presentation of the General Assembly of HAS in 2015 was also conceived in the name of light, where Ferenc Krausz, an external member of HAS, the director of Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics at the Festive hall of the Academy spoke to his audience about how it was possible to take „snapshots” of processes that last for a couple of trillionth of a second (i.e. trillionth is the reciprocal of one trillion. (One billionth multiplied by one billion times).
The International Year of Light has been associated with art programs as well, not just scientific ones. One outstanding program was the exhibition at Műcsarnok (City Art Hall) of the fine art works of artist Attila Csáji, a Munkácsy prize winner with the title Light Path.
The Light Relay in May was an exciting experiment in which a light signal sparked from Szeged was passed on through fifteen settlements drawing a huge circular path only to return to the point of initialisation. A great number of students and voluntary people took part in the event and transferred the light signal by using various devices, such as laser, firing signalling rockets, etc. to its next station.
If you were to select a single event from the events staged during the International Year of Light in Hungary, your choice would surely be the series of lectures entitled “Light and Science in the City of Light” held at the festive hall of the Hungarian Academy of Science. The lectures targeted mainly to a high school audience covered a varied set of subjects starting from the social role of light through the properties of laser to the latest methods in brain research, as rendered by prominent local scientists.
Summer did not go unattended either: interested students had a chance to get more familiar with physics, astronomy as well as with folk dance and arts and crafts.
Four years later that World Science Forum was held in Budapest WSF discussions continued this November in Budapest again where one section was dedicated to IYL 2015.
An exhibition opened on November 10 will feature the best pictures of the contestants of a thematic photographic contest in the subject of the international year of light at the headquarters of the Hungarian Academy of Science.
Further programs are on offer in the autumn: literary and musical events, exhibitions on fine arts and photos are expecting visitors.
Bálint Gilicze is currently working as a science journalist/communications officer for the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Born in 1976, he studied chemistry, physics and mathematics at the Eötvös Loránd University of Sciences, Budapest. He has translated numerous popular science books into Hungarian, and worked as a photojournalist and picture editor for various publications. Back in the world of science journalism he is constantly doing his utmost to ensure that the works of researchers are better understood. Some of his work can be found at his website, balintgilicze.com.