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Disparition of Charles Hard Townes, the father of the laser

Charles Hard Townes, laser pioneer and Nobel Prize winner, died at 99 years old on January 27, 2015 in Berkeley, California. The physicist met students and researchers from École Polytechnique in 2010 when he came on the campus to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the laser.


Charles Hard Townes on the right, and Gérard Mourou on the left

"Everyone should be willing to take risks and make discoveries", said Charles Hard Townes during his visit at École Polytechnique in 2010 for the 50th anniversary of the laser. The American physicist was 94 years then. He was 99 when he passed away on January 27, 2015 in Berkeley, California.

Charles Hard Townes invented in 1953 the Maser, a device emitting a coherent beam of microwaves, which then led to the laser. In 1964, he won the Nobel Prize in Physics for his work in quantum electronics, in connection with the maser and laser.

In 2010, Charles Hard Townes met students and researchers from École Polytechnique when he came on the campus to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the laser.

"Science giant", "Pioneering spirit": those are the words used by Gérard Mourou, professor at École Polytechnique and director of IZEST, to describe Charles Hard Townes. Gérard Mourou received the Charles Townes award in 2009. "He gave it to me in Baltimore," he recalls.

It is Gérard Mourou who convinced the famous physicist to come at École Polytechnique in 2010, reminding him that Paris was after all the City of Light! In 2015, France will be celebrating the year of light, and a movie dedicated to Charles Hard Townes should be released by the end of the year.