Italian Opening Ceremony of the IYL 2015

Sala del Senato di Palazzo Madama
Piazza Castello, Torino
26 January 2015



12.30-14.00Welcome Buffet
Press Conference

Chair: Massimo Inguscio, INRIM President, University of Firenze and LENS, Firenze
14.00-14.45Opening Addresses
  Stefania Giannini, Minister of Education, University and Research
  Piero Fassino, Mayor of Torino
  Antonella Parigi, Councillor of Culture, Regione Piemonte
  Gianmaria Ajani, Rector of the University of Torino
  Marco Gilli, Rector of the Politecnico of Torino
  Joseph Niemela, IYL 2015 Coordinator, Abdus Salam ICTP, Trieste
14.45-15.00Luisa Cifarelli, SIF President, University of Bologna
Why an International Year dedicated to "light"
15.00-16.00Wolfgang Ketterle, Nobel Laureate, MIT, Cambridge, USA
The coolest use of light – How to make the coldest matter in the Universe
16.00-16.45Francesco Guerra, Sapienza University of Roma
From photons to the origin of quantum electrodynamics
16.45-17.15Coffee Break

Chair: Luisa Cifarelli, SIF President, University of Bologna
17.15-18.00Maria Luisa Rastello, INRIM, Torino
Measuring light
18.00Guided Visit to the Palazzo Madama Museum
20.00Concert in the Aula Magna of the Rectorate of the University
Download the leaflet (pdf)
Download the programme (pdf)


The video of the ceremony is available at this link (courtesy of INFN Multimedia Group).


It was 2011 when the European Physical Society (EPS) – of which the Italian Physical Society (SIF) is a member since its foundation in 1968 – launched the idea of a UN-proclaimed International Year devoted to "light". Indeed, light is not only crucial for life and in every scientific discipline and arts, but the technologies based on it have an enormous impact in our civilisation and economy. It took however considerable effort and time for this idea to become reality, when the United Nations General Assembly actually proclaimed the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies – IYL 2015.

The IYL is a multi-disciplinary educational and outreach project with more than 100 partners from over 85 countries. A resolution welcoming an IYL for the year 2015, as from the original EPS proposal, was first adopted by the UNESCO Executive Board at its 190th session in October 2012, then by the UNESCO General Conference at its 37th session in November 2013. Finally the 68th Session of the UN General Assembly adopted the International Year of Light on 20 December 2013.

Light is one of the most accessible themes to promote cross-disciplinary science. Light has been a major factor in the evolution of humankind and our biosphere. People worldwide benefit from the advances in light science and applications. Light-based technology has a wide impact in many fields, from medicine, to food, communications and energy, directly raising and revolutionizing the quality of life. Continuous links moreover exist between light and culture throughout history, providing valuable insights into the interactions between science and art and the humanities. Optical technologies give today new impetus in many areas of study, from art to archaeology. To sum up, light is an inspiring theme, a kind of cultural magic, for all.


The IYL 2015 is a global initiative that will highlight to the citizens of the world the importance of light and optical technologies in their lives, for their futures, and for the development of society.

The IYL 2015 consists of coordinated activities on national, regional and international levels. Activities are planned so that people of all ages and all backgrounds from all countries can enjoy and appreciate the central role of light in science and culture.


The year 2015 is a natural choice for a IYL, commemorating a number of important milestones in the history of the science of light dating back 50, 100, 150, 200 and even 1000 years.

In the 11th century, during the Arab golden age, Ibn al-Haytham, better known as Alhazen, wrote his "Book of Optics". He was first to describe how camera obscura works, to study the structure of the eye and the mechanism of vision.

In 1815 Augustin Jean Fresnel published his fundamental "Premier mémoire sur la diffraction de la lumière”, in which he fully developed the wave theory of light, against the corpuscular theory still dominant due to Newton's authority.

In 1865 James Clerk Maxwell published “A dynamical theory of electromagnetic field”. With his four differential equations, he unified electricity, magnetism and optics, showed that light is an electromagnetic wave, predicted the radio electromagnetic waves.

At the end of 1915 Albert Einstein – the centenary of his theory of the photoelectric effect has been already celebrated during the International Year of Physics in 2005 – and David Hilbert separately published, within a few days difference, the differential equations describing gravitation, the theory of general relativity (GR). The gravitational field has important effects on light and Einstein foresaw, in particular, that light rays from a star would bend when grazing the Sun (as observable in the occasion of a total eclipse). More practically, our GPS system working with electromagnetic signals, can provide accurate positions only thanks to GR.

In 1965 two face to face articles, the observation by A. Penzias and R. Wilson, and the interpretation by R. Dicke et al., reported the discovery of the cosmic microwave background (CMB). It is the most ancient electromagnetic radiation we can detect, an echo of the origins of the Universe. Since then, the study, with increasing accuracy and sensitivity, of the CMB and of its temperature and polarization fluctuations, is one of the main tools of contemporary precision cosmology.

Highlighting all these anniversaries during the IYL 2015 will provide valuable educational and historical perspectives, giving the opportunity to illustrate at the same time how scientists from every culture, and not only those mentioned here, have contributed to light science along the centuries.

Let the International Year of Light begin
Article by Prof. Luisa Cifarelli published on in the day of the Opening Ceremony of the IYL in Paris (19 January 2015). Reed the article here.


List of recommended hotels in Torino to be contacted directly for reservations: here

Città di Torino Società Italiana di Fisica INRIM

Regione Piemonte ICTP EPS SIOF