Charles Townes, a Nobel laureate in physics who brought laser to daily life, dies at age 99

January 29, 2015 9:00 AM

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BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) — Charles H. Townes' inspiration for the predecessor of the laser came to him while sitting on a park bench, waiting for a restaurant to open for breakfast.

On the tranquil morning hours of April 26, 1951, Townes scribbled a theory on scrap paper that would lead to the laser, the invention he's known for and which transformed everyday life and led to other scientific discoveries.

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