International Day of Light 2024: Five Fascinating Facts about Light

International Day of Light, celebrated annually on May 16, honors the impact of light and light-based technologies on various fields, including arts, culture, education, medicine, and sustainable development.

International Day of Light 2024: We celebrate International Day of Light every year on May 16 to honor the significant impact of light and light-based technologies in various fields and aspects of life, such as arts and culture, education, medicine, communications, science, and sustainable development. Did you know that in 1802, Humphrey Davy invented the world’s first electric lamp? International Day of Light commemorates the anniversary of physicist and engineer Theodore Maiman’s first successful laser operation in 1960.

The United Nations observes the day and UNESCO’s International Basic Science Programme (I.B.S.P.) administers it. People from all walks of life, including those within and outside the scientific community, come together to celebrate the International Day of Light. There are numerous events and forums held around the world to mark this global celebration.

International Day of Light: History

Hollow rock, shells, wood soaked in animal fat, oil lamps, candles, and gas have been utilized to provide light since antiquity. The electric light bulb started contemporary light history. Light bulbs were invented before Thomas Edison patented them, contrary to popular perception. Edison only enabled commercial light bulb production. Humphrey Davy connected voltaic heaps to charcoal electrodes to create the electric arc lamp in 1802. The brilliant arc lamp was unsuitable for home or professional use and burned out rapidly. This discovery led to the miner’s safety lamp in 1815 and street lighting in Paris and other European towns in the 1800s.

Joseph Swan solved the filament cost-effectiveness challenge for electric lamp inventors in 1850. Swan used cheap carbonized paper filaments instead of platinum. He gave a presentation in Newcastle, England, about his 1878 UK patent for an electric lamp. Swan’s vacuum pumps were inefficient, making it unsuitable for daily usage like Davy’s arc lamp. Edison corrected Swan’s electric lamp fault and introduced his light bulb in December 1879. Swan founded an English electrical lighting firm using these advancements. Edison sued Swan for patent infringement but lost.

Edison-Swan United, a later partnership, became the world’s largest light bulb maker. General Electric employee Nick Holonyak accidentally designed and patented the red LED light fixture in the early 1960s. Japanese and American scientists Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano, and Shuji Nakamura invented the blue LED in the early 1990s and won the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physics.

This allowed scientists to make white LEDs. Smarter lighting can light houses and streets wirelessly using smartphones and AI voice commands. Halogen, LED, and OLED light bulbs are replacing incandescent ones.

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International Day of Light: FAQs

Why is International Day of Light celebrated?

International Day of Light is celebrated to raise awareness of the importance of light and light-based technologies to every aspect of human life and leverage it to foster peace and sustainable development.

How far does light travel in a day?

Light travels for 1.609 x 1010 miles in a day — about 86,400 light seconds.

Why was 2015 the Year of Light?

The United Nations made 2015 the International Year of Light because it was a milestone for several innovations and inventions in the history of the science of light.

International Day of Light: Activities

Sign the ‘Trust Science’ pledge

The ‘Trust Science’ pledge is a commitment to following the guidance of science in making crucial decisions. Head to to sign this declaration of confidence in science and encourage your friends to do the same.

Attend an International Day of Light event

On International Day of Light, many organizations and scientific communities worldwide organize forums, fairs, and other events to commemorate the day. You can check the UNESCO website, Google, or social media for those close to you.

Watch films on lighting

There are several movies and documentaries about the invention of the light bulb and electricity. One of the most popular ones is “The Current War,” starring Benedict Cumberbatch. Stream it on your favorite streaming service.

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Five Fascinating Facts about Light

The speed of light

When the atmosphere is present, light slows down and travels at a speed of about 186,282.4 miles per second.

Humans do glow

Like many other living things, we are bioluminescent, but the light we produce is too weak for our eyes to see.

Let there be light

It took nearly half a million years after the Big Bang for light to reach the Earth.

Light is a wave

Light has amplitude, wavelength, frequency, and wave speed.

From the Sun to the Earth

It takes eight minutes and seventeen seconds for light to reach the earth from the Sun’s surface.

International Day of Light: Importance

Light is crucial to life

Light is one of the main reasons why life is flourishing on earth. With light, plants grow and produce food for other organisms. Light provides energy that living organisms use to perform all activities. It is also crucial in the production of oxygen and vitamin D, which are necessary for all living organisms.

Light is the key to sustainability

Light is a crucial source of sustainable energy that humans can leverage to prevent climate change catastrophes. The sun’s light is pure, renewable, and has no negative effects on the environment.

Light improves healthcare

Light-based technologies are employed in healthcare for analysis, imaging, sterilization, genome sequencing, destroying cancerous cells, and more. These technologies have made it easier to detect and cure diseases, manage global pandemics, and improve healthcare for all.

International Day of Light: Dates

2024May 16Thursday
2025May 16Friday
2026May 16Saturday
2027May 16Sunday
2028May 16Tuesday

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