The Past and Future of the Laser

While it's not aprt of the official LaserFest package of stuff, Physics World is marking the 50th anniversary of the laser with a couple of really nice pieces on lasers in science and popular culture:

  • Where next for the laser interviews six laser experts-- Claire Max of UCSC, Bill Phillips of NIST, Steven Block of Stanford, science writer Jeff Hecht, John Madey of Hawaii's FEL lab, and Eric Gustafson of Caltech and LIGO.-- about the current status of lasers in their areas of science, and the future prospects.
  • From ray-gun to Blu-Ray is a very nice survey of lasers and laser-like devices in popular culture, from the various uses of lasers in science fiction films to the practical applications of lasers in optical data storage and bar-code scanners and the like.

Both pieces are well worth reading on a cold and dreary Saturday. Or any other kind of day, really.

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Perhaps betraying my cluelessness about lasers, I can only think of the Austin Powers films.

"Fire the [quote-fingers] 'laser'!"
"FIRE THE LASER!!"