Opening Ceremony of the IYL 2015 in Germany

The International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies (IYL 2015) was officially opened in Germany at the Deutsches Museum in Munich on 27 February. The Ceremony was attended by around 300 high-level guests from business, research and culture that paid tribute to light as the basis of life and a catalyst for science and technology.

We would not exist without light. The Sun has given it to us for billions of years. At the same time, light – or more generally: electromagnetic radiation – is the basis of many important branches of science or technologies: laser, solar cells, LEDs and fibre optics are just a few examples. Reason enough to take a much closer look at the importance of light. That is why the UN General Assembly proclaimed 2015 the “International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies”.

In Germany events are being co-ordinated by the Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft (DPG) in conjunction with the German UNESCO Commission. So several weeks ago the DPG already launched a nationwide events calendar on the website (, where event organisers can enter their planned festivals, celebrations or conferences – regardless of whether they are scientific, technological, application-specific, cultural or artistic.


The well-known German TV presenter and astrophysicist Harald Lesch conducted the opening ceremony with aplomb. Welcoming addresses were given by the nano-researcher and General Director of the Deutsches Museum Wolfgang M. Heckl, UNESCO representative Maciej Nalecz, and Andreas Tünnermann, Head of the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering (IOF) on behalf of all the co-organisers, which also included the Helmholtz-Gemeinschaft, the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Association and the Max Planck Society.

The scientific side of light was illuminated by the recent Nobel Prize for Chemistry winner Stefan Hell from the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, Goettingen, Germany, in his presentation on the “STED microscope”, for which he was distinguished with the Nobel Prize, and Martin Roth from the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP), who took the guests on an mental journey from molecules to galaxies and back. The political view was expressed by Parliamentary Secretary of State Stefan Müller; the view of industry by Olaf Berlien, Chairman of the Board of Osram Licht AG. With a light installation visible from far off the company is lighting the Deutsches Museum up in a totally new light for several days. “Wherever there is a lot of light there is also a lot of shade”, said church councillor Stephan Schleissing from the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich’s Institut Technik-Theologie-Naturwissenshaften, giving food for thought in his presentation on light and enlightenment in Christendom.

A special highlight of the ceremony was the reopening of the Zeiss Planetarium. The first projection planetarium ever was already in the Deutsches Museum in 1923. It was commissioned by Oskar von Miller, the founder of the Deutsches Museum from Carl Zeiss in Jena. Since then the Deutsches Museum has had up to 80,000 visitors a year.

For Michael Kaschke, Chairman of the Board of the Carl Zeiss AG group, and member of the DPG Executive Board responsible for Industry, creating the most modern planetarium in the world was of particular importance. His aim is to convey to as many people as possible how fascinating the advances in the micro-world and macro-world can be, and what significance light has for life on Earth.

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