Conversations with History: Institute of International Studies, UC Berkeley

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See a webcast of this interview:
 Townes

Adventures of a Scientist: Conversation with Charles W. Townes, Nobel Laureate, 2/15/00 by Harry Kreisler.

This interview is part of the Institute's "Conversations with History" series, and uses Internet technology to share with the public Berkeley's distinction as a global forum for ideas.

Welcome to a Conversation with History. book cover I'm Harry Kreisler of the Institute of International Studies. Our guest today is Charles Townes. Charles Townes won the Nobel Prize for his role in the invention of the maser and the laser. He is currently a professor in the graduate school at the University of California at Berkeley. He is also recently the author of a book, How the Laser Happened: Adventures of a Scientist.

  1. Background ... growing up on a farm ... fixing and inventing ... father's patent system ... keen to understand... "oh, physics!"
  2. Doing Science ... more fixing: innovating ... teachers ... excitement of physics in the 1930s ... work at Bell Laboratories ... learning electronics and microwaves in war work
  3. Discovery ... microwave spectroscopy ... a walk in the park ... masers and lasers ... exploration
  4. The Habits of a Scientist ... science is unpredictable ... independence and curiosity ... perseverance ... failure ... marriage of two fields ... the unknown ... discovery
  5. The Responsibility of the Scientist ... government and the scientific agenda ... scientists advising government ... scientists and international relations ... effects of Pugwash meetings
  6. Lessons Learned ... breadth and enjoyment ... K-12 science education ... understanding vs. acquiring facts ... opportunity for scientists in the schools... appreciating the wonders of the universe

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