Partnerships are brought to light at THEMUSEUM

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Navigate the Mission-Impossible laser maze without breaking any beams, create a doodle to glow in the ultraviolet room, look down, down, down into the Infinity Mirror or race against a beam of light. These activities are all part of the new LIGHT Illuminated exhibit at THEMUSEUM.

Ian Andrews, Kent Fisher, Jean-Philippe MacLean, Michael Mazurek, Aimee Gunther, Angela Olano, and Sarah KaiserIan Andrews, Kent Fisher, Jean-Philippe MacLean, Michael Mazurek, Aimee Gunther, Angela Olano, and Sarah Kaiser at the opening of the exhibition (Photo credit: Brent Wettlauger/THEMUSEUM).

The exhibit, showcasing the fascinating properties of light, was created by a group of volunteer graduate students from the University of Waterloo’s Department of Physics and Astronomy and the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) in celebration of the United Nations’ International Year of Light.

The students putting this exhibit together have combined hard work and imagination to produce exhibits that will excite and educate the public about the fundamentals and applications of optics,” said Physics and Astronomy Professor Melanie Campbell.

The 2015 International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies (IYL2015) aims to raise “global awareness about how light-based technologies promote sustainable development and provide solutions to global challenges in energy, education, agriculture and health.”

So far more than 85 countries have hosted IYL2015 activities, such as exhibitions, film festivals, workshops and symposia. Light Illuminated is one of three exhibitions taking place in Canada.

The organizers of the LIGHT Illuminated – all members of Waterloo’s Student Chapter of the Optical Society – worked with THEMUSEUM for more than a year to create and curate displays to that would teach people of all ages about light and light-based technologies.

Covering the entire top floor of THEMUSEUM’s downtown Kitchener building, the display features a mix of educational facts and hands-on experiments organized around the light’s wondrous properties: polarization, the electromagnetic spectrum, ultraviolet light, refraction, colour mixing, infrared light, lasers and fibre optics.

These properties can be interesting and fun, but they’re also the backbone of serious technologies such as fiber optic cabling and medical imaging.

Local partners, including the Institute for Quantum Computing, the University of Waterloo, Waterloo’s Knowledge Integration program, Christie Digital, TeledyneDALSA, COM DEV and FiberTech Optica, supported the exhibitions, as did the American Physical Society.

More than 200 guests attended the October 29th grand opening reception, including the Mayor of Kitchener, members of THEMUSEUM board, and staff, faculty and students of IQC and the University of Waterloo.

Waterloo Region is the hub of talented students and outstanding technologies,” said Kitchener Mayor Barry Vrbanovic. “I am pleased to see the cross-community collaboration these students have undertaken to create the LIGHT Illuminated exhibit.”

The team behind LIGHT Illuminated includes Ian Andrews (MSc Physics), Kent Fisher (PhD Physics and IQC), Aimee Gunther (PhD Physics and IQC), Sarah Kaiser (PhD Physics and IQC), Jean-Philippe MacLean (PhD Physics and IQC), and Mike Mazurek (PhD Physics and IQC).

Professor Campbell and Physics and Astronomy Professor Donna Strickland served as faculty advisors. A special thanks goes to Angela Olano of the Institute for Quantum Computing and Heather Anderson from the Department of Physics and Astronomy.

We invite you to come explore LIGHT Illuminated on display at THEMUSEUM until March 28, 2016. 

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