Every once in a while, a holiday comes along that I, Dr. Bulb, can get really excited about. One such holiday is The International Year of Light. Quite frankly, it doesn’t get much better than that.

The United Nations has designated 2015 as The International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies (IYL2015), a global initiative to celebrate the uses of light and lighting technology.

The year 2015 was chosen for several reasons. It is the centennial anniversary of Albert Einstein’s general relativity equations, something that could only be tested with the use of light. 2015 also marks the 1000th anniversary of the first publication of the Book of Optics, a seven-volume work written by the medieval Arab scholar Ibn al-Haytham, known in the West as Alhazen (965– c. 1040 AD).

There are three goals associated with the International Year of Light, the first of which is to make people more aware of how dependent the world is on light and photonics technology. Most companies in the field are small to medium-sized businesses. The goal is to make people more aware of these smaller companies and support them.

The second goal is associated with education. In recent years there has been a global push to reinvigorate science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. The International Year of Light will support programs that are designed to encourage youth and young adults to pursue STEM-based careers. The goal is to illuminate the lighting industry in such a way that people see it as a viable career path.

Finally, the third goal is focused on the Study After Sunset project. The purpose of this project is to bring light into rural African homes so that children will be able to study after the sun goes down. This initiative is already well under way and solar lighting solutions are being installed in some areas. The International Year of Light will work to reiterate the importance of this event to the world.

The International Year of Light was proposed in 2013 and two years later, it is finally happening. The project quickly gained support from more than 80 countries and is supported by scientific societies, museums, universities and various other organizations, including the International Council for Science and the United Nations.