By Lisa Leff, Associated Press
Charles H. Townes' inspiration for the predecessor of the laser came to him while sitting on a park bench, waiting for a restaurant to open for breakfast. The 99-year-old Nobel Prize-winning physicist died January 27, 2015.
On the tranquil morning of April 26, 1951, Townes scribbled a theory on scrap paper that would lead to the laser, the invention he's known for and which transformed everyday life and led to other scientific discoveries. Townes, who was also known for his strong spiritual faith, famously compared that moment to a religious revelation.
In 1954, Townes and his students developed the laser's predecessor, the maser (microwave amplification by stimulated emission of radiation).
Townes was a faculty member at Columbia University when he did most of the work that would make him one of three scientists to share the 1964 Nobel Prize in physics for research leading to the creation of the laser. The others were Russian physicists Aleksandr M. Prokhorov and Nicolai G. Basov.
Townes' research applied the microwave technique used in wartime radar research to the study of spectroscopy, the dispersion of an object's light into its component colors.
He envisioned that would provide a new window into the structure of atoms and molecules and a new basis for controlling electromagnetic waves. His insights eventually led to the first laser.
More - Link >>> http://www.scientificcomputing.com/news/2015/01/laser-co-creator-and-nobel-laureate-charles-townes-dies-99?et_cid=4389742&et_rid=544605860&location=top
Sources: Associated Press, ScientificComputing.com .
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