Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Charles Townes

Today we celebrate Charles Townes for his contribution to light amplification by stimulated emissions of radiation technology - or lasers for short.

Charles Townes was born on July 28, 1915 in Greenville, South Carolina where he attended public schools and later Furman University. With a B.A. in Modern Languages and a B.S. in Physics, Townes moved on to earn his M.A. in Physics at Duke University followed by his PhD at the California Institute of Technology in the same discipline.

Townes joined the faculty at Columbia University in 1948 where he performed extensive research in microwave physics. Charles' work led him to the discovery of the Maser - microwave amplification by stimulated emissions of radiation. Along side his brother-in-law, Dr. Arthur Leonard Schawlaw - a one time Stanford University professor - Townes' maser was further developed into the laser.

Townes' dedication to physics opened up a world of innovation. Laser technology led to large advances in medicine, telecommunications, computers, and countless electronic products. As a result we are all better off.

It is worth noting some of Charles Townes' additional accomplishments: Charles' academic exposure - various positions including provost, lecturer, researcher, etc - extends to the Universities of Paris, Tokyo, MIT and later the University of California, Berkeley. He has received many prestigious awards inclusive of a shared stake in the 1964 Nobel Prize in Physics, and holds over 27 degrees from several universities.

Cheers to Charles Townes!


Charles Townes at:

Academy of Achievement

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