The New York Times commemorated Maiman’s invaluable contributions on his death in 2007:
This first laser, tiny in power compared with later versions, shone with the brilliance of a million suns. Its beam spread less in one mile than a flashlight beam spreads when directed across the room. Scientists call laser light “coherent light.”
Dr. Maiman published his discovery in the British journal Nature, after the journal Physical Review Letters mistakenly rejected it as repetitive. In a book marking the centennial of Nature, [fellow laser pioneer] Dr. [Charles] Townes called the short article “the most important per word of any of the wonderful papers” that the prestigious journal had published in its 100 years.
Today, the direct worldwide economic impact of laser manufacturing amounts to more than $7.5 billion each year. Because lasers enable the use of so many different technologies, the total economic impact of lasers is likely to grow at least an order of magnitude larger.
The development of both integrated circuitry and laser has brought prosperity to much of the world at an incredible rate. One need only examine the growth of America’s market benchmark, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (Dow Jones Indices:.DJI), before and after these two inventions. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (Dow Jones Indices:.DJI) closed May 16, 1960 at a value of 617.39 — a 1,400% gain from its initial value when it was created in 1896. Over the 50 years following this breakthrough, the Dow posted a total gain of 1,600% — that’s 200% more growth in 14 fewer years.
The article 2 Developments That Helped Build the Future originally appeared on Fool.com and is written by Alex Planes.
Fool contributor Alex Planes owns shares of Intel. Add him on Google+ or follow him on Twitter @TMFBiggles for more insight into markets, history, and technology.The Motley Fool recommends General Motors and Intel. The Motley Fool owns shares of Intel.
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