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Vintage Lasers

Return of popular laser light shows bring LaserFest to Univ. of Arizona for fall semester

A display of laser equipment dating from the invention of the technology 50 years ago will be part of the keenly awaited return of laser light shows to the Univ. of Arizona's Flandrau planetarium. The light shows resume this weekend after a 10-year hiatus, and the vintage laser display is part of a laser anniversary celebration that will continue through fall semester.

Organized by SPIE, the laser exhibit includes approximately 100 pieces on loan from companies throughout the laser industry as well as private collectors.

With its laser light shows, exhibits, and other events, Flandrau joins science educators and enthusiasts from around the world who have been educating the public all year long through activities such as LaserFest on the importance of one of the greatest inventions of the 20th century in our everyday lives. The laser enables many activities of modern life, from shopping at the grocery store, to listening to music and browsing the Internet, to more efficient and painless medical procedures.

A series of lectures and interactive floor demonstrations at Flandrau will give the public an opportunity to hear from the experts about how lasers play a significant role in the science being done at the Univ. of Arizona, in fields as diverse as optical sciences, medicine, molecular and cellular biology, astronomy and more.

"The Flandrau exhibits and events will demonstrate how curiosity-driven science can lead to profound and transformational changes," said Univ. of Arizona's Pierre Meystre, Regents' Professor of Physics and Optical Science. "They will also demonstrate the central roles OSC and Arizona have played in the development of the laser, through contributions of such towering figures as:

  • Willis Lamb, who received the 1955 Nobel Prize for Physics for work that laid the foundation for the development of quantum electrodynamics, and who went on to do seminal theoretical work on laser theory;
  • Nicolaas Bloembergen, who did seminal work on masers in the 1950s, holds one of the key laser patents, is one of the major forces behind the development of nonlinear optics, and received the 1981 Nobel Prize for Physics for revolutionary spectroscopic studies of the interaction of electromagnetic radiation with matter;
  • Peter Franken, the discoverer of nonlinear optics, and second director of OSC;
  • Stephen Jacobs, a member of the team around Gordon Gould who developed the Cs laser; and
  • Marlan Scully, a student of Lamb who developed the first quantum theory of the laser and was a coauthor with Lamb and Murray Sargent of the classic text Laser Physics."

More information on the activities at Flandrau is at www.flandrau.org/2010/07/08/laser-light-shows-return-to-flandrau-after-10-years/. A virtual version of the laser museum is posted on the SPIE website.

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