What better way to end this year than by looking forward to the next? And next year has been proclaimed the 'International year of light and light-based technologies' by the United Nations.
Light from the sun forms the very basis for life on this planet, and solar power increasingly offers hope for alternatives to the fossil fuels that represent an era from which humankind soon needs to graduate.
Most people have long forgotten what a luxury electric lighting is, but many in developing nations could still derive great economic benefits from artificial light. The International Energy Agency estimates that electric lighting currently uses 20% of the electricity generated globally. Hopefully the year of light will speed the trend towards more efficient lighting, offsetting the growth of lighting in developing areas and due to Jevons paradox.
But light is so much more than golden rays of energy-giving photons or man's defense against darkness. The United Nations website dedicated to the International Year of Light 2015 notes:
"The 21st century will depend as much on photonics as the 20th century depended on electronics."Think fiber optics, self-driving cars, medical, security, manufacturing, and other applications of photonic technologies in a sector set to grow from $440 billion currently to over $750 billion global market value by 2020.
Seems like a good cause to celebrate the glory of light as we celebrate the beginning of a new year.