Tuesday 24th February 2015
A Brief History of Light Prof. John Dudley (Université de Franche-Comté)
(President of the European Physical Society)
All talks start at 7.30pm in the Royal Society of Edinburgh, 22 - 26 George Street, with refreshments from 7.00 pm
Free and open to non-members
Abstract: The United Nations (UN) has declared the year 2015 the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies. In declaring this International Year, the UN has recognized the centrality of how the fundamental study and applications of light impact on virtually all areas of science, and how light-based technologies can promote sustainable development and provide solutions to global challenges in energy, education, agriculture, health and well-being. The year 2015 has been selected for this celebration as it commemorates a remarkable series of important milestones in the history of the physics of light: the early work on optics by the Islamic scholar Ibn Al-Haytham in 1015; the mathematical theory of the wave nature of light proposed by Fresnel in 1815; the electromagnetic theory of light propagation proposed by Maxwell in 1865; Einstein’s embedding of light in cosmology through general relativity in 1915; the discovery of the cosmic microwave background by Penzias and Wilson in 1965; and Charles Kao’s achievements in 1965 concerning the transmission of light in fibers for optical communication. In this talk, we will briefly review the general aims and objectives of the International Year of Light, but we will mainly focus on providing a survey of the recent developments in physics that relate closely to the anniversaries which will be celebrated in 2015. Topics will be presented at a level suitable for non-specialists but with enough breadth in coverage to surprise even the experts!