Friday, November 9, 2007

The Origin of the Laser & Why Super-Villians Are Born

Avengers © Marvel Comics
On this day in 1957, Gordon Gould began to write down the principles of what he called a laser in his notebook during a sleepless Saturday night. By Wednesday morning he had a notary witness and date his notebook. Therein, he had described what he called "light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation," or, from those initials, "laser."

Unfortunately, he misunderstood the patent process, and did not file promptly. But, other scientists, Charles Townes and Arthur Schawlow, did file for a patent on their similar but independent discovery of how to make a laser. When Gould belatedly tried to get a patent, it took decades to eventually establish priority and gain what had then grown to be profitable royalties from the established laser industry.

From Today In Science History