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1000 Years of Arabic Optics to be a Focus of the International Year of Light in 2015

Ibn Al-Haytham
Ibn Al-Haytham

The International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies (IYL 2015) will be launched in 2015. Aimed at raising global awareness of how light-based technologies can provide solutions to global challenges in energy, education, agriculture and health, this UNESCO-led initiative will also be an opportunity to celebrate the work of the 10th century scientist Ibn Al-Haytham.

Ibn Al-Haytham was a pioneering polymath from Basra (in modern-day Iraq) who lived in the 10th century and is often referred to as the ‘father of modern optics’. He made significant advancements in optics, mathematics and astronomy, and helped lay the foundations of the present day scientific experimental method.

His life and works will be the subject of several major initiatives during 2015, beginning at the Opening Ceremony of the International Year on 19 January 2015 at UNESCO HQ in Paris.  The Ceremony will see the launch of 1001 Inventions and the World of Ibn Al-Haytham, a global campaign where UNESCO will partner with the science and cultural heritage organization 1001 Inventions to announce a series of interactive exhibits, workshops and live shows illustrating the world of this remarkable scientist. 

“I am pleased to partner with the International Organisation 1001 Inventions to launch the World of Ibn Al Haytham Global Campaign, to promote light-science for the benefit of all,” said UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova  “A ground-breaking scientist and a humanist from a thousand years ago, the life and work of Ibn Al-Haytham have never been as relevant as they are today.”

Following the January launch, the campaign will roll out in countries around the world. Other initiatives to celebrate Ibn Al-Haytham include educational actions coordinated by a high-level Ibn-Al Haytham Working Group, and a dedicated conference an exhibition at UNESCO HQ starting on 14 September 2015 entitled The Islamic Golden Age of Science for the Knowledge-Based Society.  This conference will see experts in science, history and culture engage world leaders and the public with fascinating insights into the era of ground-breaking discoveries and innovations by scientists of different cultures and faiths who lived during that period of Muslim Civilisation over 1,000 years ago.

On 20 December 2013, The United Nations (UN) General Assembly proclaimed 2015 as the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies (IYL 2015). This International Year has been the initiative of a large range of scientific bodies together with UNESCO, and will bring together many different stakeholders including scientific societies and unions, educational institutions, technology platforms, non-profit organizations and private sector partners.

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