The Open University creates science of light animation to celebrate IYL 2015

The Open University (UK), in partnership with UK organisations the South East Physics Network and the Royal Astronomical Society, has created a special animation to celebrate The International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies 2015 (IYL 2015).

Designed to appeal to all ages, this new animation celebrates seven scientists who have helped our understanding of the science of light. From Arab scientist Ibn Al-Haytham, who wrote the Book of Optics in the 11th Century, to the development of fibre optics by Charles Kao in the 1960s, this animation shows the many ways the science of light has changed the world.

To access more free content and to find out how The Open University is celebrating IYL 2015 please visit: The Open University’s IYL 2015 webpage

Help us spread the word

To help spread the importance of the science of light to as many children across the world as possible; The Open University is inviting the global IYL 2015 community to help translate the animation into different languages. If you would like to help please visit the The Open University light collection web page and register as a volunteer following the link to the translation project (for any other enquires please send an email to:

The original version of the animation is available in English at the previous link. Any new translated version of the animation will be posted in the same page and the translated text will be converted into a PDF that will be freely available for anyone to download and use.

About The Open University

The Open University (OU) is the largest academic institution in the UK and a world leader in flexible distance learning. Since it began in 1969, the OU has taught more than 1.8 million students and has around 200,000 current students, including more than 15,000 overseas.

The OU is rated in the top ten of UK universities for student satisfaction in the National Student Survey, since the survey began in 2005. In 2013/14 it had a 91% satisfaction rating. Over 70% of students are in full-time or part-time employment, and four out of five FTSE 100 companies have sponsored staff to take OU courses.

In the latest assessment exercise for university research (Research Excellence Framework), nearly three quarters (72%) of The Open University’s research was assessed as 4 or 3 star – the highest ratings available – and awarded to research that is world-leading or internationally excellent. The Open University is unique among UK universities having both an access mission and demonstrating research excellence.

The OU has a 41 year partnership with the BBC and has moved from late-night lectures in the 1970s to co-producing prime-time series such as Frozen Planet, Bang Goes the Theory, Britain’s Great War, I Bought a Rainforest and Business Boomers. Regarded as Britain’s major e-learning institution, the OU is a world leader in developing technology to increase access to education on a global scale. Its vast ‘open content portfolio’ includes over 800 free courses on OpenLearn, which receives 4.5 million visitors a year, and materials on YouTube, Bibblio, AudioBoom and iTunes U, which has recorded over 69 million downloads.

For further information please visit:

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).

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), Light: Science and Applications, the International Network, 1001 Inventions, The Optical Society (OSA) and the International Society for Optics and Photonics (SPIE). 

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


Lucia Marchetti
Chair of the Education & Outreach working group and Astronomy lead
IYL 2015 UK National Committee
Co-ordinator for the Open University IYL 2015 sponsorship

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