Did you know that the word LASER stands for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation? And that a MASER is a laser beam with wavelengths in the microwave part of the spectrum? Most lasers fire a monochromatic (one color) narrow, focused beam of light, but more complex lasers emit a broad range of wavelengths at the same time.
In 1917, Einstein figured out the basic principles for the LASER and MASER by building on Max Planck’s work on light. It wasn’t until 1960, though when the first laser actually emitted light at Hughes Research Lab. Today, there are several different kinds of lasers, including gas lasers, chemical lasers, semiconductor lasers, and solid state lasers. One of the most powerful lasers ever conceived are gamma ray lasers (which can replace hundreds of lasers with only one) and the space-based x-ray lasers (which use the energy from a nuclear explosion) – neither of these have been built yet!
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