Light Fantastic



A light show based on scientific research and light-based technologies brightened a December evening at Heriot-Watt’s Edinburgh Campus to mark the closing of the International Year of Light events in Scotland.

Here at Heriot-Watt we have been proud to play our part and show how light is used in research.
Professor Duncan Hand

The United Nations proclaimed 2015 as the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies to highlight the importance of light and optical technologies in our lives, for our futures and for the development of our society.

To celebrate the range of activities and events which have taken place throughout Scotland during the year, school pupils and adult visitors attended a range of science exhibits, a lecture by BBC science communicator Professor Jim Al-­Khalili and a spectacular science-based light show at the University campus devised and presented by designer Malcolm Innes from Edinburgh Napier University and lighting design company Black Light, working with researchers and academics at the University.

Professor Duncan Hand, Deputy Principal for Research and Knowledge Exchange at Heriot-Watt University, said, “The Year of Light has been celebrated around the world, and Scotland is no exception. We marked the start of the year with a launch at the Royal Society of Edinburgh and activities during the year have included an eclipse viewing event at Sumburgh Head in Shetland, at 97% totality the darkest place in the UK for the eclipse, visits to over 40 schools and over 6,000 children by the ‘lab in a lorry’, science festivals from Orkney to the Scottish Borders, talks by NASA astronauts and Nobel laureates and much more.

“Here at Heriot-Watt we have been proud to play our part and show how light is used in research across our schools in areas as diverse as biology, textiles and quantum physics. We’ve shown the hidden colours of corals, cameras so fast they can see light travelling through air, fibres that change colour when exposed to ultraviolet light, how light affects our sleep patterns and the way we see the details of sign language.”