The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science welcomes Charles H. Townes, professor emeritus, University of California, Berkeley, as guest speaker for the Armstrong Memorial Lecture on March 26, at 4:00 p.m. in Davis Auditorium, CESPR Schapiro Building.
Townes was a physics professor at Columbia from 1948-1961, leaving to join the Kennedy administration as a science advisor. He subsequently became a member of other government advisory groups, including NASA and the Jasons. His invention of the maser, a device that amplifies electromagnetic waves, created a means for the sensitive reception of communications and for precise navigation. The maser provided basic components of the laser, for which Townes also received a patent. The difference between a maser and a laser is that the laser utilizes visible light. Apart from being useful tools in the laboratory, both masers and lasers have found many applications in radar, communications, astronomy, navigation, atomic clocks, surgery, and industry. For his advances in the field of quantum electronics, Townes was awarded the 1964 Nobel Prize for Physics.
Townes' lecture will be a broad discussion of the invention, history and development of the laser as an example of the unpredictability of new discoveries in science and technology, mutual support between these two fields, and the importance of personal interactions in their rapid development.
The lecture is open to the University community.