Charles Hard Townes
Charles Hard Townes Born July 28, 1915
Greenville South Carolina
Residence United States Nationality United States Fields Physics Institutions Berkeley
Institute for Defense Analyses
Alma mater Furman University (B.S. & B.A.)
Duke University (M.A.)
Doctoral advisor William Smythe Doctoral students James P. Gordon
Raymond Y. Chiao
Known for Inventing the Maser Notable awards Nobel Prize in Physics (1964)
Templeton Prize (2005)
Charles Hard Townes (born July 28, 1915) is an American Nobel Prize-winning physicist and educator. Townes is known for his work on the theory and application of the maser, on which he got the fundamental patent, and other work in quantum electronics connected with both maser and laser devices. He shared the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1964 with Nikolay Basov and Alexander Prokhorov. The Japanese FM Towns computer and game console is named in his honour.
Townes was born in Greenville, South Carolina on July 28, 1915, the son of Henry Keith Townes, an attorney, and Ellen (Hard) Townes. He attended the Greenville public schools and then Furman University in Greenville, where he completed the requirements for the Bachelor of Science degree in Physics and the Bachelor of Arts degree in Modern Languages, graduating summa cum laude in 1935, at the age of 19. Physics had fascinated him since his first course in the subject during his sophomore year in college because of its "beautifully logical structure". He was also interested in natural history while at Furman, serving as curator of the museum, and working during the summers as collector for Furman's biology camp. In addition, he was busy with other activities, including the swimming team, the college newspaper and the football band.
Townes completed work for the Master of Arts degree in Physics at Duke University in 1936, and then entered graduate school at the California Institute of Technology, where he received the Ph.D. degree in 1939 with a thesis on isotope separation and nuclear spins.
A member of the technical staff of Bell Telephone Laboratories from 1933 to 1947, Townes worked extensively during World War II in designing radar bombing systems and has a number of patents in related technology. From this he turned his attention to applying the microwave technique of wartime radar research to spectroscopy, which he foresaw as providing a powerful new tool for the study of the structure of atoms and molecules and as a potential new basis for controlling electromagnetic waves.
At Columbia University, where he was appointed to the faculty in 1948, he continued research in microwave physics, particularly studying the interactions between microwaves and molecules, and using microwave spectra for the study of the structure of molecules, atoms, and nuclei. In 1951, Townes conceived the idea of the maser, and a few months later he and his associates began working on a device using ammonia gas as the active medium. In early 1954, the first amplification and generation of electromagnetic waves by stimulated emission were obtained. Townes and his students coined the word "maser" for this device, which is an acronym for microwave amplification by stimulated emission of radiation. In 1958, Townes and his brother-in-law, Dr. Arthur Leonard Schawlow, for some time a professor at Stanford University but now deceased, showed theoretically that masers could be made to operate in the optical and infrared region and proposed how this could be accomplished in particular systems. This work resulted in their joint paper on optical and infrared masers, or lasers (light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation). Other research has been in the fields of nonlinear optics, radio astronomy, and infrared astronomy. He and his assistants detected the first complex molecules in the interstellar medium and first measured the mass of the black hole in the center of our galaxy.
Having joined the faculty at Columbia University as Associate Professor of Physics in 1948, Townes was appointed Professor in 1950. He served as Executive Director of the Columbia Radiation Laboratory from 1950 to 1952 and was Chairman of the Physics Department from 1952 to 1955.
From 1959 to 1961, he was on leave of absence from Columbia University to serve as Vice President and Director of Research of the Institute for Defense Analyses in Washington, D.C., a nonprofit organization which advised the U.S. government and was operated by eleven universities.
In 1961, Townes was appointed Provost and Professor of Physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T). As Provost he shared with the President responsibility for general supervision of the educational and research programs of the Institute. In 1966, he became Institute Professor at M.I.T., and later in the same year resigned from the position of Provost in order to return to more intensive research, particularly in the fields of quantum electronics and astronomy. He was appointed University Professor at the University of California in 1967. In this position Townes is participating in teaching, research, and other activities on several campuses of the University, although he is located at the Berkeley campus.
During 1955 and 1956, Townes was a Guggenheim Fellow and a Fulbright Lecturer, first at the University of Paris and then at the University of Tokyo. He was National Lecturer for Sigma Xi and also taught during summer sessions at the University of Michigan and at the Enrico Fermi International School of Physics in Italy, serving as Director for a session in 1963 on coherent light. In the fall of 1963, he was Scott Lecture at the University of Toronto. More recently (2002–2003) he has been the Karl Schwarzschild Lecturer in Germany and the Birla Lecturer and Schroedinger Lecturer in India.
In addition to the Nobel Prize, Townes has received the Templeton Prize, for contributions to the understanding of religion, and a number of other prizes as well as 27 honorary degrees from various universities.
Townes has served on a number of scientific committees advising governmental agencies and has been active in professional societies. This includes being a member, and vice chairman, of the Science Advisory Committee to the President of the U.S., Chairman of the Advisory Committee for the first human landing on the moon, and chairman of the Defense Department’s Committee on the MX missile. He also served on the boards of General Motors and of the Perkin Elmer Corporation.
Townes and his wife (the former Frances H. Brown; they married in 1941) live in Berkeley, California. They have four daughters: Linda Rosenwein, Ellen Anderson, Carla Kessler, and Holly Townes.
Charlie Townes was the lead researcher in the construction of the Infrared Spatial Interferometer, the first astronomical interferometer to operate in the mid-infrared. He continues researching into astrophysics and astronomy at the University of California, Berkeley. With Arthur Leonard Schawlow, he wrote the book Microwave Spectroscopy, published in 1955.
During his time at Bell Labs Townes was asked to help with the development of a new radar system for aircraft in World War II. He never served in the military, but felt he was helping his country from within the lab. Townes and his team were successful in creating more accurate and precise radar systems, but none of them were ever mass produced by the military. Some of the new systems developed were used as prototypes in early B-52 bombers. After the war, Townes continued to work at Bell Labs, creating new radar by experimenting with different radio wavelengths.
Moving from Bell Labs in 1948, to the physics department of Columbia University allowed Townes to return to experimental physics and away from the applications of physics. At Columbia, his research was still partially funded by the US Navy’s desire for even smaller radar. At Bell Labs Townes helped develop a radar system with a 1.25 centimeter wavelength. After moving to Columbia, the military wanted radar systems with wavelengths only a few millimeters. The shortening of the wavelength led Townes and his colleagues to focus on microwave research. In 1951, the idea of the maser was proposed to Townes' superiors. After three years and many experiments, Townes and Jim Gordon created a working maser.
Science and religion
A member of the United Church of Christ, Townes considers that "science and religion [are] quite parallel, much more similar than most people think and that in the long run, they must converge". In 2005, he was awarded the Templeton Prize for "Progress Toward Research or Discoveries about Spiritual Realities."
Townes has been widely recognized for his scientific work and leadership.
- 1956 - elected Full Member of the National Academy of Sciences.
- 1957 - elected Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
- 1958 - awarded the Comstock Prize in Physics from the National Academy of Science.
- 1961 - awarded the David Sarnoff Electronics Award given by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and the Rumford Medal awarded by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
- 1962 - The John J. Carty Award for the Advancement of Science given by the National Academy of Science.
- 1962 - The Stuart Ballantine Medal given by The Franklin Institute.
- 1963 - Young Medal and Prize, for distinguished research in the field of optics presented by the Institute of physics.
- 1964 - Nobel Prize in Physics with N. G. Basov and Aleksandr Prokhorov for contributions to fundamental work in quantum electronics leading to the development of the maser and laser.
- 1979 - He was awarded the Niels Bohr international medal awarded for contributions to the peaceful use of atomic energy.
- 1980 - Townes was inducted by his home state into the South Carolina Hall of Science and Technology, and has also been awarded a South Carolina Hall of Science and Technology Citation.
- 1982 - He received the National Medal of Science, presented by President Ronald Reagan.
- 1994 - elected Foreign Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
- 1996 - awarded the Frederic Ives Medal by the OSA
- 1998 - awarded the Henry Norris Russell Lectureship by the American Astronomical Society.
- 2000 - awarded the Lomonosov Medal by the Russian Academy of Sciences.
- 2003 - awarded the Telluride Tech Festival Award of Technology in Telluride, Colorado.
- 2005 - awarded the Templeton Prize for "Progress Toward Research or Discoveries about Spiritual Realities."
- He has also been awarded the LeConte Medallion.
- 2006 - Along with associate Raj Reddy, Townes was awarded the Vannevar Bush Award for Lifetime Contributions and Statesmanship to Science
- 2008 - On May 24 Townes received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the University of Redlands.
- 2010 - SPIE Gold Medal
- Between 1966 and 1970 he was chairman of the NASA Science Advisory Committee for the Apollo lunar landing program.
- M. Bertolotti, History of the Laser, Taylor and Francis, 2004.
- J.L. Bromberg, The Laser in America, 1950-1970, MIT Press, 1991.
- R.Y. Chiao, Amazing Light : A Volume Dedicated To Charles Hard Townes On His 80th Birthday, Springer, 1996.
- J. Hecht, Beam: The Race to Make the Laser, Oxford University Press, 2005.
- J. Hecht, Laser Pioneers, Academic Press, 1991.
- N. Taylor, Laser: The Inventor, the Nobel Laureate, and the Thirty-Year Patent War, Citadel, 2003.
- A.L. Schawlow and C.H. Townes, "Infrared and Optical Masers," Phys. Rev. 112, 1940 (1958).
- C.H. Townes, Making Waves, AIP Press, 1995.
- C.H. Townes, How the Laser Happened: Adventures of a Scientist, Oxford University Press, 2000.
- C.H. Townes and A.L. Schawlow, Microwave Spectroscopy, McGraw-Hill, 1955.
- F. Townes, Misadventures of a Scientist's Wife, Regent Press, 2007.
- ^ IEEE Global History Network (1992). "Charles Townes Oral History". IEEE History Center. http://www.ieeeghn.org/wiki/index.php/Oral-History:Charles_H._Townes_%281992%29. Retrieved 14 July 2011.
- ^ Harvard Gazette June 16, 2005 Laser's inventor predicts meeting of science, religion
- ^ "Book of Members, 1780-2010: Chapter T". American Academy of Arts and Sciences. http://www.amacad.org/publications/BookofMembers/ChapterT.pdf. Retrieved 7 April 2011.
- ^ "Comstock Prize in Physics". National Academy of Sciences. http://www.nasonline.org/site/PageServer?pagename=AWARDS_comstock. Retrieved 13 February 2011.
- ^ "John J. Carty Award for the Advancement of Science". National Academy of Sciences. http://www.nasonline.org/site/PageServer?pagename=AWARDS_carty. Retrieved 13 February 2011.
- Charles Hard Townes
- Amazing Light: Visions of Discovery (Symposium in honor of Charles Townes)
- Bright Idea: The First Lasers (history with interview clips)
- Infrared Spatial Interferometer Array
- Research page
- Oral History interview transcript with Charles H. Townes 20 and 21 May 1987, American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library and Archives
- Dedication Program for the Charles H. Townes Center for Science, Furman University, November 1, 2008
Provosts of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Nobel Laureates in Physics (1951–1975)
Cockcroft / Walton (1951) · Bloch / Purcell (1952) · Zernike (1953) · Born / Bothe (1954) · Lamb / Kusch (1955) · Shockley / Bardeen / Brattain (1956) · Yang / T. D. Lee (1957) · Cherenkov / Frank / Tamm (1958) · Segrè / Chamberlain (1959) · Glaser (1960) · Hofstadter / Mössbauer (1961) · Landau (1962) · Wigner / Goeppert-Mayer / Jensen (1963) · Townes / Basov / Prokhorov (1964) · Tomonaga / Schwinger / Feynman (1965) · Kastler (1966) · Bethe (1967) · Alvarez (1968) · Gell-Mann (1969) · Alfvén / Néel (1970) · Gabor (1971) · Bardeen / Cooper / Schrieffer (1972) · Esaki / Giaever / Josephson (1973) · Ryle / Hewish (1974) · A. Bohr / Mottelson / Rainwater (1975)
Complete list · (1901–1925) · (1926–1950) · (1951–1975) · (1976–2000) · (2001–2025) Time Persons of the Year
- Mohammad Mosaddegh (1951)
- Elizabeth II (1952)
- Konrad Adenauer (1953)
- John Foster Dulles (1954)
- Harlow Curtice (1955)
- Hungarian Freedom Fighter (1956)
- Nikita Khrushchev (1957)
- Charles de Gaulle (1958)
- Dwight D. Eisenhower (1959)
- U.S. Scientists: George Beadle / Charles Draper / John Enders / Donald A. Glaser / Joshua Lederberg / Willard Libby / Linus Pauling / Edward Purcell / Isidor Rabi / Emilio Segrè / William Shockley / Edward Teller / Charles Townes / James Van Allen / Robert Woodward (1960)
- John F. Kennedy (1961)
- Pope John XXIII (1962)
- Martin Luther King, Jr. (1963)
- Lyndon B. Johnson (1964)
- William Westmoreland (1965)
- Baby boomers (1966)
- Lyndon B. Johnson (1967)
- The Apollo 8 Astronauts: William Anders / Frank Borman / Jim Lovell (1968)
- The Middle Americans (1969)
- Willy Brandt (1970)
- Richard Nixon (1971)
- Henry Kissinger / Richard Nixon (1972)
- John Sirica (1973)
- King Faisal (1974)
- American Women: Susan Brownmiller / Kathleen Byerly / Alison Cheek / Jill Conway / Betty Ford / Ella Grasso / Carla Hills / Barbara Jordan / Billie Jean King / Carol Sutton / Susie Sharp / Addie L. Wyatt (1975)
Complete roster · 1927–1950 · 1951–1975 · 1976–2000 · 2001–present Presidents of the American Physical Society 1899-1925
Henry Augustus Rowland (1899) · Albert Abraham Michelson (1901) · Arthur Gordon Webster (1903) · Carl Barus (1905) · Edward Leamington Nichols (1907) · H. Crew (1909) · W. Magie (1911) · B. Peirce (1913) · E. Merritt (1914) · Robert Andrews Millikan (1916) · H. Bumstead (1918) · J. Ames (1919) · Theodore Lyman (1921) · Thomas Corwin Mendenhall (1923) · Dayton Miller (1925)
Karl Taylor Compton (1927) · H. Gale (1929) · William Francis Gray Swann (1931) · P. Foote (1933) · Arthur Compton (1934) · Robert W. Wood (1935) · F. Richtmyer (1936) · H. Randall (1937) · L. Briggs (1938) · J. Tate (1939) · John Zeleny (1940) · George Braxton Pegram (1941) · G. Stewart (1941) · Percy Williams Bridgman (1942) · A. Hull (1943) · Arthur Jeffrey Dempster (1944) · Harvey Fletcher (1945) · Edward Condon (1946) · Lee Alvin DuBridge (1947) · J. Robert Oppenheimer (1948) · Francis Wheeler Loomis (1949) · Isidor Isaac Rabi (1950)
Charles Christian Lauritsen (1951) · John Hasbrouck Van Vleck (1952) · Enrico Fermi (1953) · H. Bethe (1954) · Raymond Thayer Birge (1955) · E. Wigner (1956) · Henry DeWolf Smyth (1957) · J. Beams (1958) · George Eugene Uhlenbeck (1959) · V. Weisskopf (1960) · Frederick Seitz (1961) · William Vermillion Houston (1962) · J. Williams (1963) · Robert Bacher (1964) · Felix Bloch (1965) · John Archibald Wheeler (1966) · Charles Hard Townes (1967) · James M. Bardeen (1968) · Luis Walter Alvarez (1969) · Edward Mills Purcell (1970) · Robert Serber (1971) · Philip M. Morse (1972) · J. Mayer (1973) · Wolfgang K. H. Panofsky (1974) · Chien-Shiung Wu (1975)
William A. Fowler (1976) · George Pake (1977) · Norman Foster Ramsey, Jr. (1978) · Lewis M. Branscomb (1979) · Herman Feshbach (1980) · Arthur Leonard Schawlow (1981) · Maurice Goldhaber (1982) · Robert Marshak (1983) · Mildred Dresselhaus (1984) · Robert R. Wilson (1985) · Sidney Drell (1986) · Val Logsdon Fitch (1987) · James A. Krumhansl (1989) · Eugen Merzbacher (1990) · Nicolaas Bloembergen (1991) · Ernest M. Henley (1992) · Donald N. Langenberg (1993) · Burton Richter (1994) · C. Kumar Patel (1995) · J.R. Schrieffer (1996) · D. Allan Bromley (1997) · Andrew Sessler (1998) · Jerome I. Friedman (1999) · James S. Langer (2000)
George Trilling (2001) · William Brinkman (2002) · Myriam Sarachik (2003) · Helen Quinn (2004) · Marvin Cohen (2005) · John Hopfield (2006) · Leo Kadanoff (2007) · Arthur Bienenstock (2008) · Cherry A. Murray (2009) · Curtis Callan (2010) · Barry C. Barish (2011) · Robert L. Byer (2012) · Michael Turner (2013) · Malcolm R. Beasley (2014)
IEEE Medal of Honor 1951–1975
Vladimir Zworykin (1951) · Walter R. G. Baker (1952) · John M. Miller (1953) · William L. Everitt (1954) · Harald T. Friis (1955) · John V. L. Hogan (1956) · Julius Adams Stratton (1957) · Albert Hull (1958) · Emory Leon Chaffee (1959) · Harry Nyquist (1960) · Ernst A. Guillemin (1961) · Edward Victor Appleton (1962) · George C. Southworth (1963) · Harold A. Wheeler (1964) · Claude Elwood Shannon (1966) · Charles H. Townes (1967) · Gordon K. Teal (1968) · Edward Ginzton (1969) · Dennis Gabor (1970) · John Bardeen (1971) · Jay W. Forester (1972) · Rudolf Kompfner (1973) · Rudolf Kalman (1974) · John Robinson Pierce (1975)
Complete roster: 1917–1925 · 1926–1950 · 1951–1975 · 1976–2000 · 2001–present
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Charles Hard Townes — Charles H. Townes, 1964 Charles Hard Townes (* 28. Juli 1915 in Greenville/South Carolina) ist ein US amerikanischer Physiker und Nobelpreisträger. Inhaltsverzeichnis … Deutsch Wikipedia
Charles Hard Townes — Charles Townes Charles Hard Townes (né le 28 juillet 1915) est un physicien et enseignant américain, lauréat du prix Nobel de physique en 1964 et du Prix Templeton en 2005. Townes est connu pour ses travaux sur la théorie et les applications du… … Wikipédia en Français
Charles Hard Townes — Estatua del Dr. Charles Hard Townes en Greenville (Carolina del Sur) … Wikipedia Español
Charles Hard Townes — noun United States physicist who developed the laser and maser principles for producing high intensity radiation (1915 ) • Syn: ↑Townes, ↑Charles Townes • Hypernyms: ↑physicist … Useful english dictionary
Physiknobelpreis 1964: Nikolaj Gennadijewitsch Bassow — Aleksandr Michailowitsch Prochorow — Charles Hard Townes — Der amerikanische Physiker Townes und seine sowjetrussischen Kollegen erhielten den Nobelpreis für ihre grundlegenden Arbeiten auf dem Gebiet der Quantenelektronik, die zur Konstruktion von Oszillatoren und Verstärkern auf der Basis des Maser… … Universal-Lexikon
Charles H. Townes — Charles H. Townes, 2007 (rechts) Charles Hard Townes (* 28. Juli 1915 in Greenville, South Carolina) ist ein US amerikanischer Physiker und Nobelpreisträger. Inhaltsverzeichnis … Deutsch Wikipedia
Charles H. Townes — Charles Townes Charles Hard Townes (né le 28 juillet 1915) est un physicien et enseignant américain, lauréat du prix Nobel de physique en 1964 et du Prix Templeton en 2005. Townes est connu pour ses travaux sur la théorie et les applications du… … Wikipédia en Français
Townes,Charles Hard — Townes (tounz), Charles Hard. Born 1915. American physicist. He shared a 1964 Nobel Prize for developing the maser and laser principles of producing high intensity radiation. * * * … Universalium
Townes, Charles Hard — SUBJECT AREA: Electronics and information technology [br] b. 28 July 1915 Greenville, South Carolina, USA [br] American physicist who developed the maser and contributed to the development of the laser. [br] Charles H.Townes entered Furman… … Biographical history of technology
Townes , Charles Hard — (1915–) American physicist Born in Greenville, South Carolina, Townes was educated at Furman and Duke universities in his home state and at the California Institute of Technology, where he obtained his PhD in 1939. He worked at the Bell Telephone … Scientists