Brain Candy Sale

Special Offers see all

Enter to WIN a $100 Credit

Subscribe to
for a chance to win.
Privacy Policy

Visit our stores

    Recently Viewed clear list

    Q&A | October 9, 2015

    Tyler Oakley: IMG Powell’s Q&A: Tyler Oakley

    Describe your book. As a YouTuber, my occupation is to share my life with anyone who wants to listen. It's a dream job that I've had for almost... Continue »
    1. $16.80 Sale Hardcover add to wish list


      Tyler Oakley 9781501117695

Qualifying orders ship free.
New Trade Paper
Ships in 1 to 3 days
Add to Wishlist
available for shipping or prepaid pickup only
Available for In-store Pickup
in 7 to 12 days
Qty Store Section
25 Remote Warehouse Science Reference- General

More copies of this ISBN

This title in other editions

How the Laser Happened: Adventures of a Scientist


How the Laser Happened: Adventures of a Scientist Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In How the Laser Happened, Nobel laureate Charles Townes provides a highly personal look at some of the leading events in twentieth-century physics. Townes was inventor of the maser, of which the laser is one example; an originator of spectroscopy using microwaves; and a pioneer in the study of gas clouds in galaxies and around stars. Throughout his career he has also been deeply engaged with issues outside of academic research. He worked on applied research projects for Bell Labs; served on the board of directors for General Motors; and devoted extensive effort to advising the government on science, policy, and defense.

This memoir traces his multifaceted career from its beginnings on the family farm in South Carolina. Spanning decades of ground-breaking research, the book provides a hands-on description of how working scientists and inventors get their ideas. It also gives a behind-the-scenes look at the scientific community, showing how scientists respond to new ideas and how they approach a variety of issues, from priority and patents to the social and political implications of their work. In addition, Townes touches on the sociology of science, uncovering some of the traditions and values that are invisible to an outsider.

A towering and energetic figure, Townes has explored or pioneered most of the roles available to the modern scientist. In addition to fundamental research, he was actively involved in the practical uses of the laser and in the court cases to defend the patent rights. He was a founding member of the Jasons, an influential group of scientists that independently advises the government on defense policy, and he played an active part in scientific decisions and policies from the Truman through the Reagan administration. This lively memoir, packed with first-hand accounts and historical anecdotes, is an invaluable resource for anyone interested in the history of science and an inspiring example for students considering scientific careers.

About the Author

Charles Townes is one of the leading figures in twentieth-century physics, intentor of the maser, co-inventor of the laser, and a pioneer in microwave spectroscopy for molecular and nuclear physics and in the use of radio and infrared spectroscopic techniques for astronomy. A Nobel laureate, Townes was also one of the first academic scientists to accept a full-time position advising the Executive Branch during the Cold War, and was founder of the Jasons, an influential group of scientists independently advising the government. He also served on the Board of General Motors.

Table of Contents

1. The Light That Shines Straight

2. Physics, Furman, Molecules, and Me

3. Bell Labs and Radar, a (Fortunate) Detour from Physics

4. Columbia to Franklin Park and Beyond

5. Maser Excitement--And Time for Reflection

6. From Maser to Laser

7. The Patent Game

8. On Moon Dust, and Other Science Advice

9. The Rains of Orion

10. Glances Both Backward and Forward


Product Details

Townes, Charles H.
Oxford University Press, USA
null, Charles H.
New York
Military - Strategy
Physics | Atomic, Molecular,
Optical physics
Lasers & Photonics
Physics | Atomic, Molecular, and Optical physics
| Atomic, Molecular, and Optical physics
Lasers -- History.
Masers -- History.
Physics | Atomic, Molecular, & Optical physics
Science Reference-General
Series Volume:
study no. 40
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
College/higher education:
16 halftones/line illus
8.44x7.08x.67 in. .72 lbs.

Other books you might like

  1. The Sun, the Genome & the Internet:... Used Hardcover $3.50
  2. Surfing Through Hyperspace:... Used Trade Paper $4.50
  3. Voodoo Science: The Road from... Used Trade Paper $4.95
  4. Philosophy of Science Today New Trade Paper $56.95
  5. A Charge to Keep: My Journey to the... New Trade Paper $14.50
  6. Self-made Tapestry : Pattern... Used Trade Paper $63.50

Related Subjects

Health and Self-Help » Health and Medicine » Medical Specialties
History and Social Science » Military » Strategy Tactics and Deception
Reference » Science Reference » General
Reference » Science Reference » Technology
Science and Mathematics » Physics » Biographies and Classics
Science and Mathematics » Physics » Laser Technology

How the Laser Happened: Adventures of a Scientist New Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$34.95 In Stock
Product details 208 pages Oxford University Press - English 9780195153767 Reviews:
  • back to top


Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at