The International Year of Light in the Athens Science Festival

23 March, 2015 Blog


This year, we are delighted to prepare our participation in the global celebration of the International Year of Light (UNESCO International Year of Light 2015) as part of the largest Festival of Science in Greece, the Athens Science Festival.

2015 was chosen by UNESCO because it is a year connected with some noteworthy anniversaries in the history of optics, the science that studies light: 1000 years from the first studies of optics by Iraqi scientist, Ibn Al-Haytham, 200 years since Fresnel’s paper on the wave nature of light, 150 years since Maxwell proposed the electromagnetic theory of light propagation, 100 years since Einstein’s Relativity Theory and finally 50 years since Amo Penzias and Robert Woodrow Wilson’s discovery of the cosmic microwave background and Charles Kao’s achievements in developing the technology of fibers for optical communication.

The light, whether visible and invisible, is a crucial scientific concept. From the rainbow and the wonderful colors of plants and animals, to the source of life, the photosynthesis, light is the energy that feeds the world around us. Visiting the Athens Science Festival, you will discover many of the phenomena associated with it, in the special illuminated areas at Technopolis, City of Athens. Through interactive exhibitions and experiments, lectures and discussions focusing on light, the Athens Science Festival’s organizing team aspires to put together an impressive programme of activities and exhibits. Our main aim is for live demonstrations by experienced teachers (such those organized by EKFE Alimos & N.Smyrni, addressing light as ray, a wave and a quantum), Cafe Scientifique-like discussions (eg the use of light beams to explore the seabed) or interactive exhibitions (eg, radiation in health, the tele-education and the weather forecast) to play a central role in this.

Furthermore, the Festival will have the pleasure and honor to host a series of artistic creations with direct reference to light, such as Takis’ photovoltaic projects, Nikos Ziva’s solstices and Maria Vytinidou’s innovative Wearables. Artists’ participation in this year’s Athens Science Festival is really impressive and I believe this is an excellent opportunity to bring Science and Art in Greece one step closer.

In light of the above, my personal ambition as the curator of the Physics activities as part of the Festival, is to give our visitors the opportunity to experience a fundamental scientific concept (Light) through their daily lives, in a way they have probably never realised before. We hope that those of you joining us from 17 to 22 March will have the opportunity to enjoy what we have prepared for you.

* Theodore Mertzimekis is Assistant Professor at the Department of Nuclear Physics of the University of Athens and Curator of the Physics thematic at the Athens Science Festival.

BLOG Light Year lambda-DNA-light

λ-DNA single-molecule fluorescence under the microscope