Charles Hard Townes Quotes

Charles Hard Townes (July 28, 1915 – January 27, 2015) was an American physicist and inventor of the maser and laser. Townes was known for his work concerning the theory and application of the maser, for which he obtained the fundamental patent, and other work in quantum electronics associated with both maser and laser devices. He shared the Nobel Prize in Physics during 1964 with Nikolay Basov and Alexander Prokhorov. Charles was also a major advisor to the United States Government, meeting every US President from Harry Truman (1945) to William Clinton (1999). One of the most notable committees he directed for the US government was the Science and Technology Advisory Committee for the Apollo flights, which was effective at making the program a success on schedule without exceeding its budget. After becoming a professor of the University of California at Berkeley during 1967, he began an astrophysical program that produced several important discoveries, for example the black hole at the center of the Milky Way Galaxy. Townes was religious and believed that science and religion are converging to provide a greater understanding of the nature and purpose of the universe.

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Charles Hard Townes


The beaver told the rabbit as they stared at the Hoover Dam: No, I didn't build it myself, but it's based on an idea of mine

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The late Richard Feynman, a superb physicist, said once as we talked about the laser that the way to tell a great idea is that, when people hear it, they say, 'Gee, I could have thought of that.'

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At least this is the way I see it. I am a physicist. I also consider myself a Christian. As I try to understand the nature of our universe in these two modes of thinking, I see many commonalities and crossovers between science and religion. It seems logical that in the long run the two will even converge.

Charles Hard Townes


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“I think there's a world market for about five computers.”

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It's almost a sort of fairy story tale, just what a novelist would write about a discovery.

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Many have a feeling that somehow intelligence must have been involved in the laws of the universe.

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I strongly believe in the existence of God, based on intuition, observations, logic, and also scientific knowledge.

Charles Hard Townes


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Science, with its experiments and logic, tries to understand the order or structure of the universe. Religion, with its theological inspiration and reflection, tries to understand the purpose or meaning of the universe. These two are cross-related. Purpose implies structure, and structure ought somehow to be interpretable in terms of purpose.

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When God said "Let there be light" he surely must have meant perfectly coherent light.

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