According to the LaserFest website, today, May 16, 2010, marks the 50th anniversary of the laser. First demonstrated by a team lead by American physicist Ted Maiman.
In 1917, Albert Einstein established the theoretic foundations for the LASER and the MASER in the paper Zur Quantentheorie der Strahlung (On the Quantum Theory of Radiation); via a re-derivation of Max Planck’s law of radiation, conceptually based upon probability coefficients (Einstein coefficients) for the absorption, spontaneous emission, and stimulated emission of electromagnetic radiation; in 1928, Rudolf W. Ladenburg confirmed the existences of the phenomena of stimulated emission and negative absorption; in 1939, Valentin A. Fabrikant predicted the use of stimulated emission to amplify “short” waves; in 1947, Willis E. Lamb and R. C. Retherford found apparent stimulated emission in hydrogen spectra and effected the first demonstration of stimulated emission; in 1950, Alfred Kastler (Nobel Prize for Physics 1966) proposed the method of optical pumping, experimentally confirmed, two years later, by Brossel, Kastler, and Winter. On 16 May 1960, Theodore Maiman demonstrated the first functional laser at the Hughes Research Laboratories, capable of producing short pulses.
Of course lasers are what power the Climbers in the Power-Beaming Competition at the Space Elevator Games and lasers are, in all probability, going to be at least part of the power equation of a real Space Elevator.
The LaserFest website is very cool – lots of interesting videos and articles – it’s well worth a visit or two.
So, happy 50th birthday congratulations to the Laser!
(Hat tip to Alan Boyle’s Cosmic Log)