Dr. Charles Hard Townes: I Met The Man That Invented LASERS
Dr. Niamtu and Dr. Townes in 2010
I have had my picture taken with a lot of people, I guess you could say it is sort of a hobby, like some people collect coins, etc. I have John Glenn, Neil Armstrong, Steven Spielberg, a President and a VP as well as many celebrities and sports figures.
One of my proudest handshakes was with Dr. Charles Townes. This guy pretty much invented the LASER. That includes the one on your key chain, the ones I treat patients with and the ones on our military aircraft. Talk about a cosmetic surgery super hero! When we chatted, he talked about Einstein’s opinion of his project! He worked with Einstein, I had goose bumps, I felt like I was standing next to Sir Issac Newton! The following is a shortened biography courtesy of Wikipedia. Thanks for all you have done Dr. Townes! The hundreds of people that I have helped with scars and wrinkles with my lasers have you to thank.
Townes was born in Greenville, South Carolina on July 28, 1915 and in 1964 received the Nobel Prize in Physics with N. G. Basov and Aleksandr Prokhorov for contributions to fundamental work in quantum electronics leading to the development of the maser and laser.
Townes completed work for the Master of Arts degree in Physics at Duke University in 1936, and then entered graduate school at the California Institute of Technology, where he received the Ph.D. degree in 1939 with a thesis on isotope separation and nuclear spins.
A member of the technical staff of Bell Telephone Laboratories from 1933 to 1947, Townes worked extensively during World War II in designing radar bombing systems and has a number of patents in related technology. From this he turned his attention to applying the microwave technique of wartime radar research to spectroscopy, which he foresaw as providing a powerful new tool for the study of the structure of atoms and molecules and as a potential new basis for controlling electromagnetic waves.
At Columbia University, where he was appointed to the faculty in 1948, he continued research in microwave physics, particularly studying the interactions between microwaves and molecules, and using microwave spectra for the study of the structure of molecules, atoms, and nuclei. In 1951, Townes conceived the idea of the MASER, and a few months later he and his associates began working on a device using ammonia gas as the active medium. In early 1954, the first amplification and generation of electromagnetic waves by stimulated emission were obtained. Townes and his students coined the word “MASER” for this device, which is an acronym for microwave amplification by stimulated emission of radiation. In 1958, Townes and his brother-in-law, Dr. Arthur Leonard Schawlow, for some time a professor at Stanford University but now deceased, showed theoretically that MASERS could be made to operate in the optical and infrared region and proposed how this could be accomplished in particular systems. This work resulted in their joint paper on optical and infrared MASER, or LASERS (light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation). Other research has been in the fields of nonlinear optics, radio astronomy, and infrared astronomy. He and his assistants detected the first complex molecules in the interstellar medium and first measured the mass of the black hole in the center of our galaxy.
In 1961, Townes was appointed Provost and Professor of Physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T). As Provost he shared with the President responsibility for general supervision of the educational and research programs of the Institute. In 1966, he became Institute Professor at M.I.T., and later in the same year resigned from the position of Provost in order to return to more intensive research, particularly in the fields of quantum electronics and astronomy. He was appointed University Professor at the University of California in 1967. In this position Townes is participating in teaching, research, and other activities on several campuses of the University, although he is located at the Berkeley campus.
In addition to the Nobel Prize, Townes has received the Templeton Prize, for contributions to the understanding of religion, and a number of other prizes as well as 27 honorary degrees from various universities.
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Joe Niamtu, III DMD
Cosmetic Facial Surgery