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LaserFest and SPIE Advancing the Laser: Year-long laser anniversary party is more than a bright memory

03 March 2011

Cirque du Lasaire, SPIE Photonics West 2010

Quite a party: Cirque du Lasaire at SPIE Photonics West 2010 kicked off a celebration of the laser in 2010.

BELLINGHAM, Washington, USA -- The SPIE Advancing the Laser and community-wide LaserFest celebrations tallied broad success in campaigns to celebrate the 50th anniversary last year of the invention of the first laser. The party started with an unforgettable kick-off in San Francisco, California, at the Cirque du Lasaire reception during SPIE Photonics West, and continued all around the world throughout the year.

And -- for those wanting more --video interviews, a virtual museum of laser equipment from the technology's first 50 years, and other features are still available online, on the AdvancingTheLaser.org and LaserFest.org websites:

  • A slide-show version of the popular photo tribute to laser luminaries -- shown at more than 50 SPIE meetings and other events around the world and translated into five languages -- is available on the Advancing The Laser site.
  • A virtual museum features items loaned from the collections of Theodore Maiman, inventor of the first working laser, and other individuals and companies, and also can be viewed at the site. The equipment display was organized by SPIE and shown in five venues over the course of the year.
  • SPIE video interviews with dozens of laser luminaries introduce the laser's early days and look forward at how the technology is advancing the into the future.
  • Interviews and features from the SPIE Professional magazine on topics such as lasers in medicine, their impact on the semiconductor industry, and the fusion-generation project at the National Ignition Facility demonstrate the wide range of uses of the technology.
  • Among many resources on the LaserFest website are an index of laser applications, interviews with laser pioneers, and a timeline of laser development.
  • The Advancing the Laser site offers free posters, in French, German, and English, and DVDs demonstrating laser experiments and applications.

One hundred organizations around the world participated in the LaserFest celebration. SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, was among 4 founding partners, along with the America Physical Society, IEEE Photonics Society, and Optical Society. They were joined by 10 corporate sponsors, 3 government sponsors, 4 media sponsors and 79 partner organizations.

Organizations published articles and newsletters and held events and media activities that attracted an audience approximating 66 million. Media outreach for LaserFest exceeded audiences of 340 million.

Outreach grants funded by LaserFest and by SPIE will have lasting legacy as well. Many of the funded projects use a "Hit the Target" laser kit SPIE developed for classroom use, providing the numerous teachers trained to use the kits to continue to expand an understanding of laser technology and science.

A dedicated, high-level volunteer committee of laser experts drove the vision behind LaserFest. Among them were:

  • Tom Baer, Stanford Photonics Research Center
  • Bob Boyd, University of Ottawa and Institute of Optics and University of Rochester
  • William Bridges, California Institute of Technology
  • Anthony DeMaria, Coherent Inc. (SPIE Past President and Fellow of the Society; featured in the Advancing the Laser video series
  • James Gordon, Lucent Technologies (retired)
  • John Hall, University of Colorado/JILA (Nobel Laureate; featured in the Advancing the Laser video series)
  • John Howard, Air Force Geophysics Laboratory (retired)
  • Paul Kelley, Tufts University
  • Ferenc Krausz, Max-Planck-Institut für Quantenoptik (featured in the SPIE Professional)
  • Wilson Sibbett, St. Andrews University
  • Anthony Siegman, Stanford University
  • Katarina Svanberg, Lund University Hospital (SPIE 2011 President and Fellow of the Society; featured in the Advancing the Laser videoo series)
  • Warren Warren, Duke University.

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.


Media Contact:

Amy Nelson
Public Relations Manager
Tel: +1 360 685 5478

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