Since the invention of the first working laser in 1960, development of these devices has progressed at an unprecedented rate, to the extent that the laser is now a common part of everyday life, from the semiconductor laser used in CD players and telecommunication systems to the high power eximer lasers used in manufacturing processes. This book traces the history of the laser, from the first theoretical predictions of stimulated emission made in the 1920s, through the experimental development of masers and lasers in the 50s and 60s, to the advanced applications of lasers in the present day. Along the way it tells the fascinating and at times controversial story of the people behind the discoveries. Written in a style suitable for the general public, it will be of interest to those working within the laser community, and to anyone with an interest in the history of science.
Table of Contents
Introduction,The wave and corpuscular theories of light, Spectroscopy,Black body radiation,The Rutherford-Bohr atom, Einstein,Einstein and light: the photoelectric effect and stimulated emission,Microwaves,Spectroscopy: Act 2,The magnetic resonance,The maser,The proposal for an optical maser, The misadventures of Gordon Gould, Finally the laser! What is it worth?