UNESCO has named 2015 the International Year of Light and we can expect a lot of news about LED and LED technology on the back of it — especially solutions for the millions who live in remote regions of the planet where they have no electricity.

Philips is a major sponsor of IYL2015 and has announced what may seem as a very mundane contribution to this international event but which will play a major role in our suburban homes.

They have released an affordable LED replacement for what was the bastion of yesteryear home lighting — the single 100 watt globe that hung in the middle of bedrooms and living rooms worldwide.

The LED replacement is the same size as that old-fashioned globe. Plug it into any of your traditional home light fittings and it will give 1400 lumens of omnidirectional light (the equivalent of 100 watts in the old incandescent globe) but draws only 14 watts of electricity.

It is not dimmable but will sell for $18.99 from major outlets including Bunnings.

Philips’ 14-watt LED light bulbs can provide energy savings of about 80 per cent with the added benefit of an average lifetime of up to 15,000 hours in residential homes. It comes with screw or bayonet cap fittings.


Philips’ new 14 watt LED light globe will deliver energy savings of about 80 per cent. Picture: philips.com.au

The government estimates 12 per cent of energy use in homes is lighting and many of us are still using energy-inefficient light globes, so this could be a major step to saving energy for the grid and homeowners.

At the other end of the spectrum in this International Year of Light, expect to hear and see educational programs and glamorous light festivals designed to elevate the knowledge of the technologies and science involved in lighting.

The Australian Science Teachers Association has chosen light as a key theme for this year, and Australian museums, schools, universities, science discovery centres and cultural venues (including WA’s Scitech Planetarium) have indicated that they’ll be taking part in this international event.

As did Australia’s annual “National Science Week” from August 15-24. This year the Schools theme was Making waves — the science of light, as part of the International Year of Light. A website to help promote educational activities in schools has been set up: light2015.org.

But that is only the meat and potatoes of the celebration.

The Australian sizzle started with Sydney’s New Year fireworks celebrations and the next event is in Melbourne on February 21, where skeletal luminous plastic bodies created by the French Groupe LAPS will transform the front of the National Gallery of Victoria.

Titled Keyframes, it is an art installation incorporating lights, sculpture and sound in which stick figures do comedy and musical routines.

The official international launch of International Year of Light was in Paris on January 19 and featured lectures from international delegates as well as the announcement that UNESCO and the International Year of Light will partner with the UK-based organisation “1001 Inventions” to launch a high-profile international educational programme celebrating Ibn al-Haytham, who is known as the father of modern optics.

Ibn al-Haytham was born 1000 years ago in what is now Iraq during the “Golden Age” of Muslim civilization that spread from Spain to China and saw discoveries from a range of cultures that had a huge impact on our world.

He is one of the legends of this era and is credited with explaining the nature of light and vision, using a dark chamber he called “Albeit Almuzlim”, which in the Latin translation is the camera obscura — the device that forms the basis of photography. The Moon crater Alhazen is named in his honour.

Out of the 96 books he wrote, 55 have survived and relate to the subject of light including: The Light of the Moon, The Light of the Stars, The Rainbow and the Halo, Discourse on Light, as well as his masterpiece, Book of Optics.

In Australia the International Year of Light 2015 is supported by the Australian Optical Society, Australian Institute of Physics, CUDOS (Centre for Ultra-high bandwidth Devices for Optical Systems), and the Astronomical Society of Australia. It is going to be an interesting year.


© The West Australian