Ibn Al-Haytham to be a focus of the International Year of Light through partnering with 1001 Inventions

The International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies (IYL 2015) is delighted to welcome as Founding Partner the award-winning educational organization 1001 Inventions. British-based 1001 Inventions has the specific mission to raise awareness of the contributions to science, technology and culture from the Golden Age of Muslim Civilization, and will play a key role during IYL2015 to promote and celebrate the 11th century pioneer Ibn Al-Haytham. Ibn Al-Haytham’s seminal work on optics Kitab al-Manazir (The Book of Optics) was written around 1015, and its 1000th anniversary is listed explicitly in the United Nations resolution on IYL2015 as a focal point of celebration.

Artist representation bust of Ibn Al-Haytham produced by 1001 Inventions for the International Year of Light 2015
Artist representation bust of Ibn Al-Haytham produced by 1001 Inventions for the International Year of Light 2015

1001 Inventions will be introducing Ibn Al-Haytham to the world in 2015 through a series of high-profile international events and educational initiatives including interactive exhibits, live shows, workshops, digital content, educational products and teaching resources as well as a short feature film. The global campaign will inter-link themes of science, arts, culture, education and technology using experiential learning to stimulate inquisitiveness and curiosity and to encourage young people around the world to study Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). 

The “1001 Inventions and the World of Ibn Al-Haytham” campaign will be launched through an interactive exhibit which will be a key part of the IYL2015 Opening Ceremony at UNESCO HQ over 19-20 January 2015.  The campaign will then roll out in countries around the world through the partnership of science centres, science festivals, museums, and educational institutions, digital and social media platforms.

Speaking on behalf of UNESCO, Director-General Irina Bokova comments:

I am pleased to partner with the International Organisation 1001 Inventions to launch the World of Ibn Al Haytham Global Campaign, to promote light-science for the benefit of all.

As IYL2015 Chairman John Dudley says

We are delighted to welcome 1001 Inventions with their experience of effective educational exhibits as an IYL Founding Partner.  Ibn Al-Haytham was a remarkable pioneer known for his insistence on understanding our world through experimental verification, and it will be a pleasure to work throughout 2015 to make his story known worldwide.

These comments are echoed by Ahmed Salim, Producer and Director of 1001 Inventions saying:

We are very excited to be working with UNESCO and IYL Steering Committee to engage the public in exploring the importance of light and optical technologies through the inspirational discoveries of Ibn Al-Haytham.  Ibn Al-Haytham’s achievements in optics, mathematics, astronomy, empiricism and the scientific method have had a lasting impact, yet underappreciated. His story is one that will motivate young people to pursue careers in science and strive towards building a brighter future.

Read the related UNESCO Press Release both in English and Arabic.

About Ibn Al-Haytham

The year 2015 marks the 1000th anniversary since the appearance of the remarkable seven volume treatise on optics Kitab al-Manazir written by the Arab scientist Ibn al-Haytham. Born around a thousand years ago in present day Iraq, Al-Hasan Ibn al-Haytham (known in the West by the Latinised form of his first name, initially “Alhacen” and later “Alhazen”) was a pioneering scientific thinker who made important contributions to the understanding of vision, optics and light. 

His methodology of investigation, in particular using experiment to verify theory, shows certain similarities to what later became  known as the modern scientific method. Through his Book of Optics (Kitab al-Manazir) and its Latin translation (De Aspectibus), his ideas influenced European scholars including those of the European Renaissance. Today, many consider him a pivotal figure in the history of optics and the “Father of modern Optics”. 

Ibn al-Haytham is credited with explaining the nature of light and vision, through using a dark chamber he called “Albeit Almuzlim”, which has the Latin translation as the “camera obscura”; the device that forms the basis of photography.

Out of the 96 books he is recorded to have written; only 55 are known to have survived. Those related to the subject of light included: The Light of the Moon, The Light of the Stars, The Rainbow and the HaloSpherical Burning MirrorsParabolic Burning MirrorsThe Burning SphereThe Shape of the EclipseThe Formation of ShadowsDiscourse on Light, as well as his masterpiece, Book of Optics.  Latin translations of some of his works are known to have influenced important Medieval and European Renaissance thinkers like Roger Bacon, René Descartes and Christian Huygens, who knew him as “Alhazen”. The crater Alhazen on the Moon is named in his honour, as is the asteroid 59239 Alhazen.

Learn more about Ibn al-Haytham, visit: http://www.ibnalhaytham.com

About 1001 Inventions

1001 Inventions is an award-winning, British-based organisation that creates international educational campaigns and engaging transmedia productions aiming to raise awareness of the contributions to science, technology and culture from the Golden Age of Muslim Civilisation.  Over the last decade, 1001 Inventions has engaged with over 100 million people across the globe, with educational campaigns in cities such as in London, Istanbul, New York, Washington DC, Los Angeles, Kuala Lumpur, Abu Dhabi and Jeddah.  1001 Inventions works with a network of international partners and leading academics, and through its academic partner FSTC (UK), to produce world-class experiences, interactive exhibits, feature films, live shows, books and classroom learning materials that are being used by hundreds of thousands of educators around the world.  Further information can be found at www.1001inventions.com

About IYL 2015

The International Year of Light and Light-Based Technologies (IYL 2015) is a global initiative adopted by the United Nations (A/RES/68/221) to raise awareness of how optical technologies promote sustainable development and provide solutions to worldwide challenges in energy, education, agriculture, communications and health.  With UNESCO as lead agency, IYL 2015 programs will promote improved public and political understanding of the central role of light in the modern world while also celebrating noteworthy anniversaries in 2015—from the first studies of optics 1,000 years ago to discoveries in optical communications that power the Internet today.  The IYL Global Secretariat is located at the Abdus Salam International Centre of Theoretical Physics (ICTP). 

In addition to 1001 Inventions, the Founding Partners of IYL 2015 are the American Institute of Physics (AIP), the American Physical Society (APS), the Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft (DPG), the European Physical Society (EPS), the Abdus Salam International Centre of Theoretical Physics (ICTP), the IEEE Photonics Society (IPS), the Institute of Physics (IOP), the International Society for Optics and Photonics (SPIE), the lightsources.org International Network, Light: Science and Applications, The Optical Society (OSA).  

Patron Sponsors include Bosca, the International Association of Lighting Designers (IALD), Royal Philips Lighting, Thorlabs and UL.


John Dudley

Steering Committee Chair

International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies 2015


Joe Niemela

Global Coordinator (IYL Secretariat)

International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies 2015


Ahmed Salim

Producer and Director

1001 Inventions

London, United Kingdom