2015: International Year of Light

The year 2015, a century after the publication of Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity in 1915, has been proclaimed the International Year of Light and light-based technologies by the UN General Assembly. CERN is taking this opportunity to communicate informationabout the High Luminosity LHC project and CERN’s involvement in the SESAME synchrotron project in Jordan. In addition, light has been chosen as the main theme of CERN’s participation in the 2015 Researchers’ Night.


“Light” as “luminosity” will be the underlying theme of the communication campaign launched to increase awareness of CERN’s High Luminosity LHC (HL-LHC). By increasing the luminosity of the LHC by a factor of 10, the ambitious project aims at extending the discovery potential of CERN’s flagship accelerator. The challenging upgrade requires a number of key technological breakthroughs, including innovative high-field superconducting magnets; crab cavities based on a technology never used before in an accelerator; a new collimation system using advanced materials; and a novel cold power system concept, which uses an electrical transmission line with a world record-breaking superconducting cable. Under the framework of the EU HiLumi LHC Design Study, the European Union and fifteen institutions worldwide are supporting the initial design phase of the HL-LHC machine.

Synchrotron light for science and peace is the message conveyed through the SESAME (Synchrotron-light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East) project. SESAME, the Middle East's first major international research centre, is under construction in Allan, Jordan, thanks to contributions from the nine Members and other institutions worldwide. In 2012, the European Commission and CERN agreed to support the construction of the magnetic system of the storage ring, under the umbrella of the FP7 CESSAMag project (“CERN-EC Support for SESAME Magnets”). The project also covers active partnership in the design and production phases, knowledge transfer, and support for the commissioning.

Finally, this year’s researchers’ night at CERN will be celebrated on 25 September with the special participation of Gao Xinjian, awarded the 2000 Nobel Prize for Literature, and its theme will be light in physics and… poetry!

The first event of CERN’s programme for the International Year of Light will be held on Wednesday, 4 February at 8.30 p.m. at the Globe of Science and Innovation. It will feature an award ceremony for the winners of the PopScience physics in poetry competition (Italian, English, French and Spanish categories) which attracted over 200 competitors from Europe, including the special participation of 52 pupils of the "Collège International de Ferney-Voltaire", who produced  drawings in addition to their poems inspired by the physics of the LHC and beyond. Their works are going to be presented as an e-book during the award ceremony, by the Genevan poet Catherine Fuchs. A public talk entitled “Light and luminosity: the concept of Light in Physics from Einstein to the LHC” will be given by the head of the HL-LHC project, Lucio Rossi, with the participation of Giorgio Apollinari, Director for the LHC Accelerator Research Program (LARP) via videoconference from Fermilab (USA). Entrance is free but seating is limited. Please click here to book your place.

by Paola Catapano