Tuesday, May 18, 2010

50th Anniversary of the first laser demonstration

Fifty years ago, on May 16, 1960, Theodore Maiman built the first functioning laser, demonstrating the operation of a ruby laser at Hughes Research Laboratories.

The world’s professional societies, including SPIE, OSA, LIA, and the Institute of Physics (IOP), have been celebrating laser technology all year, through programs such as the tribute “Advancing the Laser: 50 Years and Into the Future” and as Founding Partners of LaserFest, a collaboration among the scientific community. Some of the items in this anniversary celebration include the following:

· The laser anniversary has received high-level recognition in the U.S., through a Presidential Message in which President Obama recognized the "intensely creative theoretical work," that led to the development of the laser, "followed by innovative engineering, and a spectacular diversity of applications that have brought economic benefits unimagined at the start of the process." He went on to say he looks forward "with real excitement to further advances in this field and new applications as yet undreamed of today.". In addition, a Congressional resolution passed by the US House of Representatives recognizing the anniversary, as well as the need for continued support of scientific research. The resolution called the laser "one of the ground-breaking scientific achievements of the 20th century," and noted the economic impact of lasers, expected to be nearly $6 billion in sales globally this year.

· A large historical laser display was organized by SPIE in conjunction with a LaserFest Symposium at CLEO/QELS in San Jose, California, 16-21 May, and will be shown at SPIE Optics + Photonics in San Diego, California, during the first week of August. It can also be seen online in a virtual laser museum.

· OSA has a number of interactive videos, galleries, and open-access articles on the laser on their website at http://www.osa-opn.org/OpenContent/Feature7.aspx

· The May issue of IOP’s Physics World is a special issue devoted to laser science and technology, and is available for free download at http://physicsworld.com/cws/download/may2010.

· The IOP’s website at http://physicsworld.com/cws/channel/multimedia has a series of video interviews with some leading lights in laser science:

Visit the Advancing the Laser website for complete information and additional links: http://advancingthelaser.org.

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