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Vintage Wisdom Prosperity USA _Charles Towne Startling Invention of Lasers Keep on Giving

Updated on June 3, 2013

Introduction: : Story of Laser Invention Not a Mystery Fiction but Inspiring True Story of Innovation

The story of invention of lasers is like a fictional mystery story except that this is no fiction. Lasers have already made an immense contribution to society at large, in medical applications, engineering, scientific research and defense.

As with other inventions in the past, this invention reduced costs, and added thousands of jobs to American economy that required manufacturing of products and expert services where laser devices are used in society today.

But much more is yet to come with new applicaions of lasers, new lasers & other optical devices inspired by knowledge of laser physics now existing and new knowledge emerging.

Now we will travel back in time to talk about an amazing innovator, Charles Townes, and the startling story of the invention of lasers, to help connect America's past, present, and future, vintage wisdom of how prosperity accumulates with technology innovation & invention.

It is helpful to remember now what we know about the source of economic growth as discussed in the Vintage Wisdom Prosperity #01: Thomas Edison Memory Book.

That is, in 1987 American Economist Robert Solow (still alive today) won the Nobel Prize for his analysis of economic growth. Using his model, Solow calculated that about four-fifths of the growth in US output per worker was attributable to technical progress.


Laser Invention & Integrated Circuit Invention--Near Contemporaries

Laser Invention & IC Invention, both created thousands of jobs in USA & Elsewhere

Jack Kilby and Robert Noyce we had featured earlier in this series. The two engineer/physicists who simultaneously but independently invented the fabulous integrated circuit in the late 50's. These two separate inventors, unaware of each other's activities, invented almost identical integrated circuits or ICs at nearly the same time. Did something like that happen with the invention of the laser also?

The answer however is "no". Laser invention was different than the integrated circuit invention, though both IC & Laser inventions were made within approximately the same time frame in the 50's after World War II.

For the Maser, and then on to Laser, Chales Townes came up with the idea first. Out of Maser, the laser was born. First he called it "optical maser". Townes came up with the Maser idea early one morning on May 11, 1951 (in his book, "How The Laser Happened" page 59) while sitting at the Franklin Park in Washington DC.

At that time, he was a faculty member at Columbia University in New York City. MASER stands for "Microwave Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation".

The "invention of Maser incident" is described in the Townes book also. He had come to Washington to attend a Navy technical committee meeting. Dr. Townes' future brother-in-law, physicist, and later a close collaborator on Maser and Laser, Dr. Art Schawlow, was also there in Washington. In fact, they were sharing the same hotel room at the Franklin Park Hotel that day in May, 1951.

To refresh our memory from Vintage Wisdom #02,, the integrated circuit was invented around 1958. The idea for the IC developed perhaps a few years earlier, near the time of Maser invention.

Also, I am struck by the similarities of family background and the early influences of "nature vs. nurture" similarities between Kilby, Noyce, and Townes. This topic of early family influence and the "nature vs. nurture" issue we have been discussing since "Genes to

Future Medicine" & "Great Minds" CTV series. In fact, Kilby, Noyce and Townes are near contemporaries. Dr. Townes of course is still alive today, and he is a faculty member at University of California, Berkley.

Laser Invention Story Book 01 - Charles Towne & Startling Invention of Laser

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Required manufacturing of products and expert services where laser devices are used in society today.
Required manufacturing of products and expert services where laser devices are used in society today.
Required manufacturing of products and expert services where laser devices are used in society today.

Photo Gallery 02 Startling Invention of Laser - A Memory Book to link past, present and future

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Lasers & Holography are related topics. Thanks to an Hungarian Inventor Dennis Gabor whom noone ever heard !
Lasers & Holography are related topics. Thanks to an Hungarian Inventor Dennis Gabor whom noone ever heard !
Lasers & Holography are related topics. Thanks to an Hungarian Inventor Dennis Gabor whom noone ever heard !

A Supporting Family, Parents with Moral Values Despite Community Poverty as Legacy of Civil War Days Not Forgotten - Memory of a Rural Scouth Carolina Community


Charles Townes, born on the mountains of South Carolina, in 1940, Dr. Townes came back east to New York City, with his newly minted Ph.D. in physics from Cal Tech.

America's preparation to meet the challenge of the Great War was gaining rapidly then, in 1940. The dark clouds of evil were blowing hard across Europe.

The second chapter of "How the Laser Happened: Adventures of a Scientist" is titled "Physics, Furman, Molecules, and Me". This is the chapter, Dr.Townes gives us information about his early life influences, his family, events, and his environment, both "nature" and "nurture" that set the stage for his startling discover of masers many years later.

Rural farming community of Greenville, SC was not a prosperous community as was the case of most Southern rural communities at this time period, between the two World Wars And yet, it set the stage on the way "nature and nurture" was to combine to shape the mind of Charles Townes. We hear Dr. Townes describing his family and community on page 19.

"My father was an amateur naturalist and would have made a fine scientist himself. However, when he was a youngster, science was not a practical option, so he studied law. Our parents were strict about church, proper behavior and school work ....."

"We did not have much money, but my family was proud of its roots and traditions. The South's defeat in the Civil War still reverberated in the early decades of this century. Among other after effects of the war in that part of the country was a cultural turning away from wealth as a source of social standing: there simply wasn't much wealth in our rural southern community.

Medical Diagnostics: A Frontier of Innovation with Laser


Space Solar Power (SSP) : A frontier of Renwable Energy from Space to Earth with laser & microwave


Childhood Memories of Civil War Loss at Greenville, SC


Space Solar Power (SSP) : Renewable Solar Energy For Earth and Humanity Possible Now using existing Laser Technologies


Ted Talk 2014 Plus Fairfax VA Metro DC Proposal


Please Search Internet on Following Topic For Additional Clarity :

Strengthen Tech Innovation Support Culture at Hometown USA__A Key to Bigger Economic Pie 2014 Plus

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