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Science Technology

The Laser Turns 50 74

Posted by Soulskill
from the many-happy-returns-of-the-day dept.
sonicimpulse writes with news that tomorrow is the 50th anniversary of physicist Theodore Maiman's creation of the first operational laser. "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. He promptly submitted a short report of the work to the journal Physical Review Letters, but the editors turned it down. Some have thought this was because the Physical Review had announced that it was receiving too many papers on masers — the longer-wavelength predecessors of the laser — and had announced that any further papers would be turned down. But Simon Pasternack, who was an editor of Physical Review Letters at the time, has said that he turned down this historic paper because Maiman had just published, in June 1960, an article on the excitation of ruby with light, with an examination of the relaxation times between quantum states, and that the new work seemed to be simply more of the same. Pasternack's reaction perhaps reflects the limited understanding at the time of the nature of lasers and their significance."
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The Laser Turns 50

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  • Re:Recent invention (Score:4, Interesting)

    by deglr6328 (150198) on Saturday May 15, 2010 @02:57PM (#32221676)

    I know the above comment is modded flamebait because of the stupid note about nuking Japan, but he's completely right about the lateness of the laser's invention. The laser could have been invented in the 1930's, and very nearly was! [ico-optics.org] Ali Javan himself, the inventor of the ubiquitous (or, at least, once ubiquitous in the 80's and 90's) helium neon gas laser said he would've almost certainly invented it in 1938 [farhangsara.com] had he been around then. It is an accident of history that the laser took another 25 years to invent after most of the underlying science ("negative absorption", coherence, etc) were understood.

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