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Since the invention of the first working laser in 1960, development of these devices has progressed at an unprecedented rate, to the extent that the laser is now a common part of everyday life, from the semiconductor laser used in CD players and telecommunication systems to the high power eximer lasers used in manufacturing processes. This book traces the history of the laser, from the first theoretical predictions of stimulated emission made in the 1920s, through the experimental development of masers and lasers in the 50s and 60s, to the advanced applications of lasers in the present day. Along the way it tells the fascinating and at times controversial story of the people behind the discoveries. Written in a style suitable for the general public, it will be of interest to those working within the laser community, and to anyone with an interest in the history of science.
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Mario Bertolotti is a full Professor of Physics in the Engineering Faculty of the University "La Sapienza" in Rome, Italy.Review:
Bertolotti's entertaining book gives a good sense of the long history of the development of ideas which finally resulted in the laser.
E-Streams, Volume 8, no. 9, 2005
This rather scholarly work-much more than a mere history of the laser-sets out to cover a huge canvas. The origins of the science of optics, Newtonian mechanics, the wave theory of light, statistical mechanics, the old quantum theory, quantum mechanics, atomic physics and spectroscopy are all traced via detailed accounts of the life histories of the main protagonists. ...readers familiar with the underlying science will find the glimpses into the lives of the hundred or more personalities truly fascinating. The book also contains a fine gallery of photographs of the scientists whose work contributed to the history and prehistory of the laser.
-Collin Webb, Times Higher Education Supplement
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