Charles Townes and James Gordon in 1955 with their original maser
Photo/American Physical Society

You might wonder why you’d want to celebrate the laser, but the technology Charles Townes and his colleagues invented 50 years ago has brought us high-speed communications, DVDs, a host of medical innovations and barcode scanners.

If that makes your heart beat faster, you can join LaserFest at the Lawrence Hall of Science this weekend, which will climax with a free talk by UC Berkeley emeritus professor Townes, who won the Nobel prize in physics for his work on lasers in 1964. Townes’ lecture is at 4:30 p.m.,  Monday, at LHS.

Over the weekend at the LHS, there will be hands-on exhibits and demonstrations laying out the concept behind the laser and showing how lasers affect our daily lives. An exhibit by the National Ignition Facility (NIF) at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory will show how the world’s largest and highest-energy laser will be used to create nuclear fusion in the laboratory.

Photo of Charles Townes and James Gordon with the original maser in 1955

Lance Knobel (Berkeleyside co-founder) has been a journalist for nearly 40 years. Much of his career was in business journalism. He was editor-in-chief of both Management Today, the leading business magazine...