Did you know that the stunning lights of aurora borealis are the result of solar wind? Or that every CD and DVD player contains a tiny laser? Or that some people can trick their brains to see “impossible” colors?

Fascinating, right? It’s this fascination with light and an unquenchable interest in researching new concepts that has made the Rochester region a light, imaging and optical technologies worldwide hub.

The United Nations has proclaimed 2015 as the International Year of Light.

Organizations, businesses and museums around the world are planning celebrations to highlight to the citizens of the world the importance of light and optical technologies.

The Rochester Museum & Science Center (RMSC), Rochester Regional Photonics Cluster and other commercial and academic partners have come together to engage the community in a variety of light-based experiences. Partners include the Rochester Institute of Technology, University of Rochester, Monroe Community College, OSA-RS (Optical Society — Rochester Section), ASE Optics, Corning Tropel, IDEX Corporation, Optimax and Second Avenue Learning.

Optics and related technologies offer major benefits to our region, including interesting and well-paying careers in science, engineering and manufacturing. Globally, light-based technologies promote sustainable development and provide solutions to challenges in energy, education, agriculture and health. From the Mars Rover, to Internet communication and revolutionized medicine, optics changes the way we live. We want to raise awareness about how light-based technologies directly respond to the needs of humankind.

Using the International Year of Light as a platform, many local organizations plan to generate interest in optics through hands-on applications. The RMSC plans to host special public light-based programs including “Science of Light Weekends” throughout the first half of 2015 and “Light-a-Palooza” during spring break. A full list of community events is available at RoctheYOL.com.

With zest for light technologies, we’re supporting our own future. Rochester is home to more than 50 optics- and imaging-focused businesses. These local opportunities keep Rochester on the map and our community members here.

Bennett is president of Rochester Museum & Science Center. Cook is general manager, ASE Optics, and president of OSA Rochester Section.

http://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/opinion/guest-column/2015/01/24/year-light-motion-rochester/22222191/

#ROCtheIYOL #IYOL15 #IYOL2015

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New York Photonics is a not-for-profit organization founded to promote and enhance the New York State optics, photonics and imaging industry by fostering the cooperation of business, academia and government.

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