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Special celebration of light

Experiment with sodium atoms and lasers at CePOF, in São Carlos

LÉO RAMOSExperiment with sodium atoms and lasers at CePOF, in São Carlos LÉO RAMOS

The United Nations has declared 2015 the International Year of Light, and most UN member countries have scheduled events and exhibits to highlight the importance of light-based technologies in seeking solutions to challenges in the fields of energy, education, agriculture and health. An international conference on quantum physics, held in the United States in early January 2015, discussed the physics of nanolasers and quantum heat machines. A year-long series of events in New Zealand will bring together 23 artists and 14 researchers to present works involving lights, with the goal of showing the artistic side of science. The Brazilian Society for the Advancement of Science (SBPC) has planned several events to take place in Brazil. Physicist Vanderlei Bagnato, coordinator of the Optics and Photonics Research Center (CePOF), one of FAPESP’s Research, Innovation and Dissemination Centers, is one of the organizers of the international year in Brazil. “We want to create public awareness about how light influences several areas of knowledge,” Bagnato says. Among the technological topics expected to be addressed in the discussions in Brazil, he points to several challenges of research in the field of optics, such as the use of light in early diagnosis of cancer and other diseases, and the use of photochemistry to eliminate agricultural pests.