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Optics
  
Predicting the Next Quake - Science Insider

HOW LASERS WORK: "Laser" is an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. It describes any device that creates and amplifies a narrow, focused beam of light whose photons are all traveling in the same direction, rather than emitting every which way at once. Lasers can be configured to emit many different colors in the spectrum, but each laser can emit only that one color. There are many different types of laser, but all of them have an empty cavity containing a lasing medium: either a crystal like ruby or garnet, or a gas or liquid. There are two mirrors on either end of the cavity, one of which is half-silvered, meaning that it will reflect some light and let some light through. In a laser, the atoms or molecules of the lasing medium are "pumped" by applying intense flashes of light or electricity. The end result is a sudden burst of so-called "coherent" light as all the atoms discharge in a rapid chain reaction.

The Optical Society of America, the American Physical Society and the American Geophysical Union contributed to the information contained in the TV portion of this report.

If you would like more information, please contact:

Ed Hayward
Public Relations Officer
Boston College
haywarde@bc.edu

James Riordon, Media Relations
American Physical Society
College Park, MD
(301) 209-3238
http://www.aps.org

Riordon@aps.org

Optical Society of America
Washington, DC 20036-1023
(202) 223-8130
http://www.osa.org

info@osa.org

Peter Weiss
American Geophysical Union
Washington, DC 20009-1277
(800) 966-2481
http://www.agu.org

pweiss@agu.org


Under the Microscope


DID YOU KNOW?

LASERFEST: 2010 is the 50th anniversary of the laser, which was first demonstrated in 1960. For more information go to www.laserfest.org


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