Shedding Light on Photonics: IYL 2015 Activities in Taiwan

Light has long symbolized human inspiration, imagination, and fantasy. In modern days, it is a key driving force behind information technology and it is literally lighting the way to green energy revolution. The International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies (IYL 2015) presents a unique opportunity to inspire, educate, and connect on a global scale. The promotion of key ideas and the corresponding outreach activities for IYL 2015 was well received by the many organizations and institutes in Taiwan, which include (but not limited to) the Physical Society (PSROC), the Center of Advancement for Science Education (CASE) of National Taiwan University, the Interdisciplinary Science Education Center of National Tsing-Hwa University, the Taiwan Photonics Society, National Synchrotron Radiation Research Center (NSRRC), Photonics Industry and Technology Development Association (PIDA), Taipei Astronomical Museum, etc. Riding on the wave of IYL 2015, many activities and events are planned in a laissez-faire style with some popular themes commonly found in Taiwan’s night market.

The cover page of PSROC's Physics BiMonthly special issue on IYL, published in April 2015 [1]. Credit: PSROC.

The cover page of PSROC’s Physics BiMonthly special issue on IYL, published in April 2015 [1]. Credit: PSROC.

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Light for Environmental Friendly Group in Indonesia

Healthy and green environment is very important for the quality of life. This thought was in the minds of several housewives and elderlies from St. Barnabas Parish, who started an environmental friendly group called Darling Pamulang in 2008. ‘Darling’ stands for ‘Sadar Lingkungan’, the Indonesian words for ‘environmental awareness’, while Pamulang is a subdistrict in South Tangerang, a regency 20 km away from Jakarta, Indonesia. They found an abandoned land that belongs to the Jakarta Archdiocese in their neighbourhood and obtained a permission for planting. Now, the abondoned land of 1.3 Ha (13,000 m2) has been transformed into a garden, a site for educating local people and young pupils on how to manage and reuse domestic-waste, to plant  organic vegetables, and to breed chickens and fishes. The group voluntarily provides free workshops every Wednesday for people of all faiths and educate them about the economic value of domestic-wastes. Processing the wastes can help the environment and produce extra income. Inorganic waste can be transformed into beautiful artworks, while organic waste can be composted into green land fertilizer. Groups doing such works are called ‘Bank Sampah’, which literally means ‘Waste Banks’, where instead of saving money, the clients are saving domestic-wastes. Darling Pamulang finances its own operation by selling the organic vegetables that they planted, chickens, and fishes that they breeded greenly in the garden, and artworks and fertilizers that they produced from domestic-wastes.  On May 10 2015, South Tangerang Mayor, Mrs. Airin Rahmi Diany inaugurated the Communication Forum for Waste Bank (in Indonesian: FORKAS, Forum Komunikasi Bank Sampah) of South Tangerang and chose Darling Pamulang Garden as its head quarter. This forum becomes an interaction media for waste bank groups across South Tangerang to collaborate, share experiences, solve problems, and learn new knowledges on handling domestic-waste.

The Darling Pamulang educational workshop activities on creating economic values out of domestic-wastes through artworks and organic farming to promote a better environment. Credit: Henri Uranus.

The Darling Pamulang educational workshop activities on creating economic values out of domestic-wastes through artworks and organic farming to promote a better environment. Credit: Henri Uranus.

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The Shine of Fotang Town – Regaining Historical Fragments

Not every city presents historical and cultural ambience at night, even though there are ancient buildings, because excellent historical and cultural heritages need professional lighting to emphasize and continue its spirit.The Regain of Historical Fragments, the Shine of Fotang Town

Every old house, apart from experience the erosion from wind and rain by years, manifests a memory of the past.  Lighting not only needs to spot on the tile roof, wall and window edges of the old house, but also brightens the heart of the person who walks into it.  Therefore, lighting is an important expression means to wake up memory in people’s mind.

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Changing lives with light – Helping children with disfiguring birthmarks

It’s hard to imagine but pulses of light can have a huge impact on the quality of life.  Since the development of laser technologies, where light is used to heat a specific tissue and selectively destroy it, light has been used to treat millions children affected by disfiguring birthmarks such as congenital nevi (abnormal collection of pigmented cells) and port-wine stains (abnormal collection of blood vessels).  The reason that light is so effective is that it can destroy only the cells or tissues that are targeted, while leaving the other healthy cells and tissues alone. These treatments are safe, effective and, in the correct hands,  have no permanent side effects. Before selective laser treatments, surgery or radiation therapy were used, in Vietnam and other parts of Southeast Asia, children were still subjected to an outdated and dangerous treatment – radioactive phosphorus.  A radioactive paste is applied to hemangiomas, which are a common skin growth in baby girls. This causes permanent scars, loss of skin pigment, destruction of hair and other normal skin structures, and an lifelong increase in the risk of skin cancers.  Motivated by the desire to stop this dangerous practice and improve the lives of children, a group of Vietnamese and US  physicians, namely Dr. Hoang Minh of the University of Medicine and Pharmacy of Ho Chi Minh City, Dr. Rox Anderson, Dr. Martin Mihm and Dr. Thanh-Nga Tran of Harvard Medical School, Dr. J. Stuart Nelson of the University of California, Irvine, and Dr. Thuy Phung of Texas Children’s Hospital, came together in 2009 to create the Vietnam Vascular Anomalies Center (Vietnam VAC), a non-profit organization dedicated to the use of light technologies to treat children with disfiguring birthmarks.  Our goal was to create a permanent local clinic with modern laser and medical therapies, and to train physicians in Vietnam in the principles of safe and effective laser practices.

Credits: George Morgan

Credits: George Morgan

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Urban Lighting Improvement of Guangzhou

Bordering the South China Sea, Guangzhou is the first export seaport in China and the beginning of the Maritime Silkroad.  Being the capital of Guangdong Province, it is one of the center cities in China together with Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin and Chongqing.  Situated in the central part of Guangdong, it is the heart of the Pearl River Delta, as well as the southern gateway to China.  Pearl River is the third longest river in China, also the main river across Guangzhou, presenting the historical and traditional change, and business development over thousand years.

The improvement of urban lighting in Guangzhou along Pearl River is 18-kilometer-long, from White Swan Lagoon to Haixinsha Island, the Opening Ceremony Hub of 2010 Asian Games, from Canton Tower to Pazhou Bridge.  This project replaces all the spotlights and floodlights with LED lamps, it also adjusts the lightening duration at night from 7pm to 10.30pm (3.5 hours) in winter and spring, and 7:30pm to 10.30pm (3 hours) in summer and autumn. The design concept is to highlight the outline structure of the buildings, use LED lamp and launch remote-control system to operate the lighting during holidays and festivals. We also re-designed the lighting for 12 bridges over the river.  During the 2010 Asian Games, the athletes sailed from White Swan Lagoon towards Haixinsha Island, enjoying the beautiful landscape and lighting of Pearl River.

Pearl River Lighting - Festival Mode. Credits: AALD

Pearl River Lighting – Festival Mode. Credits: AALD

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