View Full Version : Happy Birthday to the Laser

Tim Bateson
05-16-2008, 9:47 AM
The Laser is 48 today.... younger than I am. :eek:

Theodore Maiman made the first laser operate on 16 May 1960 at the Hughes Research Laboratory in California, by shining a high-power flash lamp on a ruby rod with silver-coated surfaces.

Happy B-Day to our livelihood and/or our very expensive hobby.

Maor Grinberg
05-19-2008, 9:38 AM
We owe it all to Einstein. He realized in 1917 that photons and atoms may interact in a third way (simple emission and absorption are the first two) named it stimulated emission (the SE in laSEr), figured out the way to make it work in general terms, and was done with the whole thing for good.

he died in 1955, 5 years before the first laser was produced, but probably knew it was coming - the first MASER (microwave "laser") operated in 1954. I guess that wasn't such a big deal for him to see his mind-child finally taking tangible form - he saw it happening many times before...

Dean Flannery
05-20-2008, 8:20 AM
Cut this article out last year and never got around to posting it;

Theodore Maiman built
1st workable laser in U.S.
The Washinton Post, May 11, 2007
WASHINGTON — Theodore H. Maiman, a physicist who built the first operational laser in the United States and promoted its many medical applications after initial public concern that he created a “Death ray” died May 5th at Vancouver General Hospital in British Columbia. He was 79 and had systemic mastocytosis, a rare genetic disorder.
Lasers amplify light waves of atoms that have been stimulated to radiate and concentrate them in a very narrow, intense beam. They have wide applicability in daily life, from performing surgical procedures to reading bar codes. They are featured in rock concert light shows and can be handy in removing tattoos.
Maiman made his laser discovery May 16, 1960, using a standard high-power flash lamp and a synthetic ruby crystal that fit into the palm of his hand. He described his approach — done for California-based Hughes Research Laboratories on a tight budget — as “ridiculously simple.”
Maiman performed his work at an aggressive moment in laser research and had antagonistic relationships with many fellow physicists competing to build a workable apparatus. Charles Townes of Columbia University, who invented the maser, was pursuing laser development with his brother-in-law, Arthur Schawlow of Bell Laboratories in New Jersey.
In 196O, Townes and Schawlow, both future Nobel laureates, were the first to receive a patent for an optical maser, in essence the laser. But it was a paper patent — without any functioning device to support it. Meanwhile, physicist Gordon Gould filed competing patent claims. Gould coined the word “laser,” an acronym for light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation.
But Maiman was the first to create a workable laser.