Last week, I traveled to Washington, DC to talk about light. While I’m fairly used to giving talks about various science topics, this audience was a bit different. I had the opportunity to speak to Congressional staff and U.S. Senators about the role that light and the technologies based on it can play in our day-to-day lives.
Light is such an important part of our lives that the United Nations declared 2015 to be the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies (IYL2015), in order to help spread the word about how we harness light, from medicine to manufacturing, from communications to climatology, and from agriculture to astronomy.
"Light: Beyond the Bulb" in the Senate Rotunda, Washington, DC. Many thanks to @ChrisCoons @SPIEtweets @AmerChemSociety @CtrSocialPolicy for supporting it.
While in DC, I was part of the National Photonics Initiative’s Science on the Hill day with SPIE (the international society for optics and photonics). My whirlwind trip enabled me to visit with Senator Harry Reid, Senator Jack Reed, and staffers from senate offices including Senators Whitehouse, Warren and Corker. It was great to get such a welcome reception and genuine interest from lawmakers and their staff about how light –and astronomy- can be used to further our cause to improve STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) access and interest across this country.
One highlight (pun intended) of the trip was the fact that a copy of our IYL2015 exhibit, “Light: Beyond the Bulb,” was to be placed in the Senate Rotunda shortly after - from September 14-18. Perhaps the exhibit will help show members of this distinguished body in some small way why STEM generally, and the science of light specifically, is so important to our nation’s future. There’s no limit to where we can go if we put our minds and resources behind such important fields.
Mars. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech