UNESCO is commemorating the International Day of Light today. Every year on May 16, the International Day of Light is observed.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of physicist and engineer Theodore Maiman’s breakthrough laser operation in 1960.

This day serves as a reminder to boost scientific cooperation and maximize its potential for promoting peace and long-term development.

Light is extremely important in people’s lives. Light is at the origin of life itself on the most fundamental level, through photosynthesis.


The study of light has led to the development of promising new energy sources. It has resulted in life-saving medical breakthroughs in diagnosis and treatments.

It has also resulted in the development of the high-speed internet. Light has guided many other discoveries that have altered society and shaped our knowledge of the universe.

These technologies are the result of millennia of fundamental research into light’s characteristics. It all began in 1015 with Ibn al-Haytham’s work, and Kitab al-Manazir (Book of Optics).

It also includes Einstein’s early twentieth-century work, which changed people’s understanding of time and light.

As a result, the International Day of Light honors the importance of light in science, culture, and art. It honors the function of light in education and long-term development.

It also recognizes the importance of light in disciplines such as medicine, communication, and energy. The celebration allows people from all walks of life to engage in activities.

The programs show how science, technology, art, and culture can assist UNESCO in achieving its aims. The goal is to lay the groundwork for harmonious societies.

Message from the Director-General

“Light is life. Without light, life on our planet would not exist. In studying light through astrophysics, we delve into some of the deepest mysteries of the universe.

In exploring optics and quantum optics, we plunge into the heart of matter itself. It is therefore unsurprising that, across cultures, light is a universal symbol of life, inclusion, and renewal.

Light is associated with illumination or spiritual awakening. Light is seen in opposition to darkness, which represents ignorance and intolerance.

Although light symbolizes knowledge, we are still blind to many of its everyday applications. The high broadband speeds we use today could not have been achieved without fiber optics.

DVDs and Blu-Ray discs could not be read without light. Solar energy is a source of heating. Light-based technologies are essential in healthcare, where optical instruments and tools are used for analysis and imaging.

Ultraviolet light sources are used for sterilization. These technologies are also essential for sequencing genomes – like that of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, currently wreaking havoc around the world.

It is these exceptional properties that we celebrate every 16 May, the International Day of Light. This year, as the world grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic, we hope that this event will also be an opportunity to shed light on unprecedented global challenges.”

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