What an exciting time for biophotonics watchers! From the U.S.'s launch of the Photonics Industry Neuroscience Group, alongside officials from the White House Office of Science and Technology (see "NPI launches neuroscience group at BRAIN Initiative conference"), to the bestowal of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry to three fluorescence microscopy innovators (see "Nobel Prize honors super-resolution microscopy pioneers") and the subsequent announcement of a new open-source imaging platform from Eric Betzig, one of the new Laureates (see "Laureate's reprise shows real-time subcellular activity in 3D"), the autumn of 2014 has been quite a time.
The Nobel Prize announcement made me think about the 2008 Prize in Chemistry (awarded jointly to Osamu Shimomura, Martin Chalfie, and Roger Y. Tsien "for the discovery and development of the green fluorescent protein, GFP") and how the 2014 award leveraged the work of the 2008 winners. Progressive development is continual, of course, but events like this make you stop and really notice.
So, what might be the long-term effects of another event launched in this timeframe, the first-ever Day of Photonics? The brainchild of European Photonics Industry Consortium (EPIC)'s Carlos Lee, Day of Photonics was established to address the fact that, while the general public is familiar with the term "electronics," for instance, the term "photonics" is not so well understood. Lee noted that on October 21, 1983, the General Conference of Weights and Measures adopted the value of 299,792.458 km/s for the speed of light—and this anniversary is a fitting opportunity for a global celebration of the impact of photonics on our daily lives.
In fact, many industry participants answered the call to celebrate and educate. Over 100 activities were organized in more than 30 countries around the world and included all kinds of public demonstrations and discussions. For instance, Serge Mordon, Ph.D., Research Professor-Director, INSERM U703 (Loos, France), organized a meeting, open to surgeons, physicians, biophysicists, and students, to discuss their work and present a device developed for fluorescence-guided resection.
"Day of Photonics is a spectacular success," said John Dudley, Chairman of the International Year of Light 2015 Steering Committee. The event showed, he said, "how bottom-up events in photonics outreach driven by community enthusiasm can grow and develop, given opportunity and impetus. EPIC is to be commended for its leadership and initiative."