International Day of Light

Quick Facts - GB

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2023 Date16 May 2023
2024 Date16 May 2024

International Day of Light

International Day of Light History

The International Day of Light (IDL) is an annual celebration that invites people from all walks of life to recognise and appreciate the critical role that light, in its various forms, plays in our everyday lives. This day aims to promote the awareness, understanding and applications of light-related sciences and technologies which contribute significantly to sustainable development goals, enhancing humanitarian efforts, and improving the education, communications, and health sectors across the globe.

First launched in 2018 by UNESCO, IDL is an opportunity to learn, collaborate, and appreciate our advancements in light-based technologies through conferences, exhibits, and educational events, as well as to foster an appreciation for natural manifestations of light, such as the sun and the stars. The date of the event, May 16th, was chosen in commemoration of the first successful operation of the laser, a crucial and transformative light-based technology, by physicist Theodore Maiman in 1960.

This year, the United Kingdom will once again join the international community to celebrate the International Day of Light on May 16th. By participating in this event, the UK reiterates its commitment to furthering research and innovation in the field, sharing knowledge and resources to improve the lives of future generations, and acknowledging the true potential and importance of light in our world.

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International Day of Light facts

  • Light travels in a straight line. If objects are in its path, they will cause the light to bend or refract.
  • The speed of light is 186,282 miles or 299,792 km per second.
  • Despite its relatively cloudy and cool climate, the UK is investing heavily in solar energy. There are over 1 million solar installations across the country, and solar power accounted for 4.2% of the UK's electricity generation in 2019.
  • The British scientist James Clerk Maxwell made significant contributions to the understanding of light and electromagnetic waves, including accurately predicting the speed of light in the 19th century.

Top things to do in the UK for International Day of Light

  • Discover events near you. UNESCO hosts activities and events for people of all ages and backgrounds. They participate globally so that everyone around the world can gain an appreciation for the central role of light in science and culture.
  • Stay informed about upcoming news. UNESCO periodically releases news about scientific progress involving light technology.

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