The official Scottish launch of the International Year of Light took place this week at the Royal Society of Edinburgh. This global initiative, introduced by the UN, aims to highlight the importance of light and optical technologies.
Heriot-Watt are ideally placed to showcase how crucial light is to the existence of life on earth, and the ways in which it plays an important role in shaping our society through medicine, communications, technology and culture.
During the day, schools from across Scotland were enlightened by the array of exhibits from coral fluorescence and glowing proteins to the importance of light for sign language and sleep. Future physicists, chemists, biologists got the chance to see and interact with research that many had never even imagined.
The evening event marked the official launch, with the big bang symbolised by a trumpeter, and talks by Professor Malcolm Longair CBE FRS FRSE, University of Cambridge and Professor Robert Crawford FRSE, University of St Andrews. Over 300 people attended the evening event, and were impressed by the diversity of light-based research taking place across Scotland.
Six exhibits from across five of the University schools took part in the event, including Dr. Jonathan Leach, Assistant Professor, School of Engineering and Physical Sciences. He said, "It’s fantastic to bring our research out of the lab and engage with the public. It was great to talk to so many young people and encourage the next generation of scientists."
Professor Duncan Hand, Deputy Principal for Research and Knowledge Exchange, said, "This excellent event has set the tone for the international year of light in Scotland, bringing together optics and photonics experts across many disciplines with school pupils and other members of the general public. It was great to see the interest and enthusiasm of exhibitors and visitors alike."
The event was sponsored by the Scottish Funding Council as part of the programme for IYOL 2015.
More information on the Heriot-Watt exhibits can be found on the launch webpage.
HW Engage are planning a series of events celebrating the International Year of Light, including workshops at the Scottish Parliament and museum, and a closing event featuring Professor Jim Al-kalili.