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Vintage lasers and return of popular laser light shows highlight anniversary celebration at Univ. of Arizona

24 September 2010

TUCSON, Arizona, and BELLINGHAM, Washington, USA -- A display of laser equipment dating from the invention of the technology 50 years ago is part of a laser celebration starring the keenly awaited return of laser light shows to the Univ. of Arizona's Flandrau planetarium. The light shows resume this Saturday after a 10-year hiatus.Flandrau planetarium laser light show

Organized by SPIE as part of its Advancing the Laser tribute marking 50 years since the invention of the first laser, the laser exhibit includes approximately 100 pieces on loan from companies throughout the laser industry as well as private collectors.

Well-known laser collector Robert (Bob) Hess was instrumental in compiling the exhibit, loaning many of the pieces displayed. Items from the early days of the laser such as a 1962 Hughes ruby laser, 1963 Perkin-Elmer/Spectra-Physics helium-neon laser, and a Hughes argon ion laser system represent some of the first-of-its-kind technology.

The display is scheduled to run at Flandrau from 25 September through 1 January.

"We are thrilled to have the opportunity to showcase this amazing display of lasers," said William Plant, Associate Director for Exhibits at Flandrau. "The university community has been enthusiastically participating in helping connect this already great display with new exhibits that highlight the many uses of lasers in research and science spanning many disciplines here at the Univ. of the Arizona."Laser equipment exhibit at SPIE Photonics West

With its laser light shows, exhibits, and other events, Flandrau joins science educators and enthusiasts from around the world who have been educating the public all year long through activities such as LaserFest -- a collaborative celebration among the scientific community -- on the importance of one of the greatest inventions of the 20th century in our everyday lives. The laser enables many activities of modern life, from bar-coded check-out at the grocery store, to listening to music and browsing the Internet, to more efficient and painless medical procedures.

Flandrau will present a series of lectures and interactive floor demonstrations to give the public an opportunity to hear from the experts about how lasers play a significant role in the science being done at the University of Arizona in fields as diverse as optical sciences, medicine, physics, astronomy and more.

"The Flandrau exhibits and events will demonstrate how curiosity-driven science can lead to profound and transformational changes," said Univ. of Arizona's Pierre Meystre, Regents' Professor of Physics and Optical Science. "They will also demonstrate the central roles the College of Optical Sciences and Arizona have played in the development of the laser."

More information is at flandrau.org/2010/07/08/laser-light-shows-return-to-flandrau-after-10-years.

Read about the celebration in the Tucson Citizen.

A virtual version of the laser museum is posted on the SPIE website.

SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, was founded in 1955 to advance light-based technologies. Serving more than 180,000 constituents from 168 countries, the Society advances emerging technologies through interdisciplinary information exchange, continuing education, publications, patent precedent, and career and professional growth. SPIE annually organizes and sponsors approximately 25 major technical forums, exhibitions, and education programs in North America, Europe, Asia, and the South Pacific, and supports scholarships, grants, and other education programs around the world.

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Stacey Crockett
Media Relations Coordinator
Tel: +1 360 685-5458
Twitter @SLCrockett #SPIE
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