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

By Charles H. Townes

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

This memoir strains his multifaceted profession from its beginnings at the relatives farm in South Carolina. Spanning many years of ground-breaking examine, the e-book presents a hands-on description of ways operating scientists and inventors get their rules. It additionally provides a behind-the-scenes examine the medical group, exhibiting how scientists reply to new rules and the way they strategy numerous matters, 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 lively determine, Townes has explored or pioneered many of the roles to be had to the trendy scientist. as well as primary learn, he used to be actively excited by the sensible makes use of of the laser and within the complaints to safeguard the patent rights. He used to be a founding member of the Jasons, an influential team of scientists that independently advises the govt. on safeguard coverage, and he performed an energetic half in clinical judgements and guidelines from the Truman during the Reagan management. This full of life memoir, jam-packed with first-hand money owed and historic anecdotes, is a useful source for an individual drawn to the background of technological know-how and an inspiring instance for college students contemplating medical careers

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It was my first brush with radio astronomy, a field that has played a large role in my career—and which has important intersections with maser and laser physics. What struck me about it was that here was a fas­ cinating observation, and nobody had any idea about what generated those radio waves. Everything else I had encountered in physics by then had a theory or at least a hypothesis to go with it. It was not all physics and languages by any means. Only four courses were required for the major in physics, and much of those consisted of working through textbooks.

I don’t know if that decision did my eyes any good but they still seem to be working fine today. There were no women at Caltech in those days—a few years before I got there a woman had been admitted by accident, but that was it—so it was a somewhat monastic existence, yet it was all very pleasant. I joined the Pasadena Bach society—a choral group—and that had some women in it. I enjoyed the town. There was no smog then, and the local families were very friendly to Caltech students. 50. Several times I visited Berke­ ley, a beautiful place, and met with “Pan” Jenkins, a spectroscopist there (as dean a decade later, he offered me a faculty job, which I was not to accept until 1967, when I did join the University of California faculty).

We had a good time on the trip. For some reason, there were a lot of Filipinos from the I-House learning to ski that week, so we helped out picking them up from the snow after they fell. We were married a year and a half later, in May of 1941. Frances’s family ran the Brown Company, a forestry and paper busi­ ness in northern New Hampshire and Quebec. Before we were married, I had taken a trip with her immediate family into the forests of Quebec and she, like me, was very fond of the wild outdoors.

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