ANGKASA Talk: Prof. Ulung Datuk Dr. Harith Ahmad

Title: 2015 is the Year of the LIGHT
Date: 10 October 2015
Time: 2.45pm - 5.30pm
Venue: Teater Angkasa, Planetarium Negara, Taman Tasik Perdana
Speaker: Y.Bhg Prof. Ulung Datuk Dr. Harith Ahmad

The year 2015 is proclaimed as the International Year of Light and Light-based technologies (IYL 2015) by UN General assembly 68th session. It is therefore important that the global awareness be raised about how light-based technologies promote sustainable development and provide solutions to global challenges. It promotes new curriculum in education and innovate new approaches to agriculture and health issues. Light plays a pivotal role in our daily lives and is an imperative cross-cutting discipline of science in the 21st century. It is central in linking cultural, economic and political aspects of the global society. As mentioned by the Secretary General of United Nation (UN) Ban Ki Moon, light supports life at the most fundamental level through photosynthesis that eventually provides food to humankind.

Interestingly the study of light has seen contributions from the various stages of civilizations and cultures. There have been contributions from the ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia and also from the Greco-Roman World. In ancient India the schools of Samkhya and Varsheshika around 5th and 6th century BC developed several theories of light. The first studies of light (optics) took place about 1000 years ago, which led to various discoveries of optical phenomena. Present day light technologies also make possible the optical communicators that power the Internet today.

One of the earliest contributions of light theories also originated from the Islamic World. For instance, Al-Kindi was one of the earliest optical writers who developed the theory that “everything in this world emits rays in every direction which fill the whole world”. Ibn Sahl provided the basics of curved mirrors and lenses and laid the foundation to Snell’s law. Ibn al- Haytham (Alhazen) produced a comprehensive study of optics, kitab al Manazir (Book of Optics).

These developments help to spur the studies of light in Medieval Europe, with the involvement of Franciscan Rogen Bacon, John Pecham and later towards the Renaissance and the beginning of Early Modern Optics. During this period great names such as Johannes Kepler, Willebord Snellius (Snell’s Law), Rene Descartes and later on, Christian Huygens who laid an important foundation of the wave-particle duality of light. Isaac Newton also contributed immensely towards the development of light and optics, which remains as the foundation of the present day curriculum in school and university education.

Discoveries of laser by Townes and Schawlow and fibre optics by Kao and Hockham also established further the ability of light to provide a new platform technology called Photonics. Photonics drives the internet services, lighting, healthcare, defense, manufacturing, displays and many more areas, that helps create multi-trillion USD businesses with tremendous amount of job opportunities that warrant the proclamation, “2015 is the Year of the LIGHT”.

Date of News: 
10 October 2015

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