BERKELEY, Calif. - Charles Hard Townes, the co-inventor of the laser and a Nobel laureate in physics, has died at age 99.
Officials at the University of California, Berkeley, where Townes was a professor emeritus, said he had been in poor health before he died Tuesday on the way to an Oakland hospital.
Townes did most of the work that would make him one of three scientists to share the 1964 Nobel Prize in physics for research leading to the creation of the laser while he was a faculty member at Columbia University.
His research applied the microwave technique used in wartime radar research to the study of spectroscopy, the dispersion of an object's light into its component colours.
Later in his career, Townes earned praise and scorn for a series of speeches investigating the similarities between science and religion.