Author: Megan Loh

What is the International Day of Light?

On this day, 59 years ago, Theodore Mamain, a physicist and engineer, created the first operational laser. Today, lasers, light and optics surround us, from natural photosynthesis to laser cutting to classic light bulbs! Our lives revolve around light, literally (the Sun)!

The International Day of Light, held annually on May 16, aims to increase understanding and education of how light plays a role in our daily lives, and how it can be used in technology and society to build culture and art and improve our standard of living. One important objective is to work towards UNESCO’s goals of education, equality and peace.

On this day, organizations from around the world, in Greece, India, Israel. Spain, Sweden, Thailand and the US, join in their love for science to educate our youth in photonics, such as photonics and stimulating local innovation using light.

There are many scientists who have contributed to this field! Suzanne Nagel is one of many inspiring women in the optics field, who used light science to revolutionize technology. She designed the first transoceanic optical fiber cable, which allows data transmissions to travel to other countries at high speeds. Without her invention, the Internet would not be the same as it is today.

There are so many incredible applications of light, in art and technology. In kaleidoscopes, neon signs, and sun rays, every single part is a masterpiece.

How can you experiment with light yourself?

You can draw with light with your own camera and a flashlight! If you lengthen the exposure time on the camera, it will capture the incoming light for a longer amount of time.

Standing in a dark room, adjust your shutter settings, then when your friend clicks the camera, spark your creativity using your flashlight as a paintbrush!

You can write a message or draw a picture with increased shutter time!

If you’d like to try kaleidoscopic optical illusions, try visiting the link here!

Today, you should pay attention to the light that surrounds you—in the sky, on your devices, in light bulbs—and take a moment to appreciate how they add to your everyday life!


Megan is a gender-tech activist immensely passionate about bridging the gender gap in technology, fostering underserved girls’ interests in tech through her organization, GEARup4Youth (

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