My research depends on lasers. It’s funny to think that no one had even thought of lasers a mere century ago; they are such a fundamental part of scientific discovery now. Charles Townes was one of the researchers that developed laser technology. He, along with Gasov and Prokhorov, won the Nobel prize for their efforts in field. Today Charles Townes turns 99.
Not only has Charlie had a fundamental impact on science, he’s also left his mark on the religious community. He argues that religion and science very closely mirror each other. The public discourse overlooks the area of faith that are essential to science. We believe that the world will behave rationally, and that we are capable of making repeated observations. Similarly, general perceptions ignore the role of factual experience and historical events in the development of religion. Religious beliefs are largely supported by the empirical impact they have on lives.
Further, Charlie suggests that the ways in which we deal with paradox in science can help believers address the paradoxes they find in their faith. Perhaps our acceptance that a particle’s location and velocity cannot be simultaneously known says something about our ability to understand both God’s justice and mercy.
Charles Townes, you have lived 99 years well.