How the Laser Happened: Adventures of a Scientist by Charles H. Townes

By Charles H. Townes

In How the Laser Happened, Nobel laureate Charles Townes offers a hugely own examine the various top occasions in twentieth-century physics. Townes was once inventor of the maser, of which the laser is one instance; an originator of spectroscopy utilizing microwaves; and a pioneer within the research of gasoline clouds in galaxies and round stars. all through his occupation he has additionally been deeply engaged with matters outdoor of educational examine. He labored on utilized examine tasks for Bell Labs; served at the board of administrators for common vehicles; and committed wide attempt to advising the govt. on technology, coverage, and defense.

This memoir lines his multifaceted profession from its beginnings at the relatives farm in South Carolina. Spanning a long time of ground-breaking learn, the booklet offers a hands-on description of ways operating scientists and inventors get their principles. It additionally provides a behind-the-scenes examine the medical group, exhibiting how scientists reply to new principles and the way they procedure various concerns, from precedence and patents to the social and political implications in their paintings. furthermore, Townes touches at the sociology of technological know-how, uncovering a number of the traditions and values which are invisible to an intruder.

A towering and full of life determine, Townes has explored or pioneered many of the roles on hand to the fashionable scientist. as well as basic learn, he used to be actively all for the sensible makes use of of the laser and within the lawsuits to shield the patent rights. He was once a founding member of the Jasons, an influential crew of scientists that independently advises the govt. on security coverage, and he performed an lively half in clinical judgements and regulations from the Truman throughout the Reagan management. This vigorous memoir, full of first-hand debts and old anecdotes, is a useful source for an individual drawn to the historical past of technological know-how and an inspiring instance for college students contemplating clinical careers.

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Extra resources for How the Laser Happened: Adventures of a Scientist

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In a sense, it was failure—the failure to get financial help at any among my first choices of graduate schools—that sent me off to Caltech. This was a failure for which I will always be grateful, a fortunate failure, because it made me go directly after what I really wanted. Caltech, to my mind, was at the top of the physics world. After all, the man who beat me out for the Duke fellowship (but who, as it turned out, never finished his doctoral degree) was from Caltech. More important, Robert Millikan had made Caltech his, and Millikan was easily the country’s best-known physicist, well known even to the public because of his Nobel Prize for measuring the charge on the electron.

On the bulletin board at Caltech there were ads for places to stay. I found a house with a sleeping porch and space enough for two students, for $6 per month each. People with more money got the inside rooms, but the porch was fine with me. Everything I owned fitted in a small trunk. My porch mate was another physics student, Howland Bailey, who became a good friend. By this time I had become fairly confident that I could do physics, but some catching up was clearly needed. One of the first required courses was electricity and magnetism, taught by W.

Bell Labs and Radar, a (Fortunate) Detour from Physics 43 As experts, they have a feeling they understand the field well and often do not much care for interlopers. In addition, their views of ideas or technolo­ gies behind new proposals outside their own fields of expertise are some­ times rather limited. In fact, the United States missed the early development of radio as­ tronomy rather badly. That took place first in England and Australia, largely due to work by radar people. It also developed early in the Nether­ lands due to the strong interest of astronomers there.

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