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Charles Townes, Inventor of the Laser, Dead at the Age of 99

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posted on Jan, 28 2015 @ 11:42 PM
In 1953, while Chairman of the Physics Department at Columbia, Charles Hard Townes created the first maser and is commonly credited with the invention of lasers though by the time of their invention, a handful of other scientists were simultaneously working toward similar goals.

Along with Nikolay Basov and Aleksandr Prokhorov, he shared the 1964 Nobel Prize in Physics for, "Fundamental work in the field of quantum electronics, which has led to the construction of oscillators and amplifiers based on the maser–laser principle."

Charles H. Townes with a laser on Oct. 30, 1964 while at MIT. Credit: AP via LA Times

Townes began his career as a researcher at AT&T Bell Labs before his time at Columbia where he was appointed professor in 1950. In the spring of 1951, he was sitting at a park bench in Washington, D.C. when the fundamental concept of the laser came to him in a flash of insight. In the 60's, Townes was a professor at MIT and served as chairman of the NASA Science Advisory Committee for the Apollo lunar landing program. He was a professor emeritus of physics at UC Berkeley where he'd been teaching beginning in 1967.

Townes in 2007. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Charles Townes was a member of the United Church of Christ and was also well known for his views on the compatibility of science and religion and what he assumed would be their eventual convergence. In 2005, he won the Templeton Prize for Progress Toward Research or Discoveries about Spiritual Realities making him only the fourth person, along with Mother Teresa, the Dalai Lama, and Russian author Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, to have received both a Nobel and Templeton prize.

It was reported that Charles Townes had been in failing health in recent years. He died Tuesday the 27th at the age of 99, while en route to the hospital.

LA Times Obituary

Thanks for the lasers! *pew* *pew* *pew*
edit on 2015-1-28 by theantediluvian because: (no reason given)

posted on Jan, 28 2015 @ 11:53 PM
They should have a laser light show at his funeral.
if I invented something like that I'd want all people who attend to get a complimentary laser pointer at my funeral.

But in all seriousness, he's one of those guys many people have no idea existed, but 99 isn't young! Sounds like a full life lived to me.

posted on Jan, 28 2015 @ 11:59 PM
a reply to: theantediluvian

R.I.P..I guess he won't live to see all the new military applications humans have discovered for lasers; well maybe that's a good thing.

posted on Jan, 28 2015 @ 11:59 PM
Laser: It was my first acronym.

R.I.P., Charles.

posted on Jan, 29 2015 @ 02:09 AM
a reply to: strongfp

They should get this fellow to play him out...

posted on Jan, 29 2015 @ 08:00 AM
a reply to: TrueBrit

I want that at my funeral haha.

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