Charles Townes

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Townes, Charles


Born July 28, 1915, in Greenville, S.C. American physicist.

Townes was a student in Greenville in the period 1931–37, and from 1937 to 1939 he did graduate work at the California Institute of Technology. From 1939 to 1948 he worked at Bell Telephone Laboratories, Inc., and in 1948 he took a position at Columbia University, where he became a professor in 1950. In the years 1961–66, he was a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and in 1967 he became chairman of the physics department at the University of California at Berkeley; in 1967 he also became president of the American Physical Society. Townes’ research has dealt mainly with quantum electronics. Independently of A. M. Prokhorov and N. G. Basov, Townes proposed a new principle governing the generation and amplification of electromagnetic waves, and, working with others, he used this principle to develop the first quantum generator—the maser. Together with A. Schawlow, Townes established the possibility of building an optical quantum generator (laser). He has also employed the methods of quantum electronics and nonlinear optics in astrophysics, and, working with others, he discovered in 1969 the maser effect in space. Townes was awarded a Nobel Prize in 1964.


In Russian translation
“Poluchenie kogerentnogo izlucheniia s pomoshch’iu atomov i molekul.” Uspekhi fizicheskikh nauk, 1966, vol. 88, issue 3, pp. 461–83. (Nobel lecture.)
“Molekuly i plotnye oblaka v mezhzvezdnom prostranstve.” Uspekhi fizicheskikh nauk, 1974, vol. 112, issue 2, p. 325. (With others.)
Radiospektroskopiia. Moscow, 1959. (With A. Schawlow.)


Dunskaia, I. M. Vozniknovenie kvantovoi elektroniki. Moscow, 1974.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.