Charles Townes, The Laser, and Fostering Curiosity

When I hear about a discovery or invention, it sometimes seems inevitable that the people involved should’ve ended up where they were, doing what they did, as if they were handed the situation or the whole thing were preordained. At the very least, I don’t give much thought to what in their lives led them to that eventual point of discovery. I doubt I’m alone in this. In science, there is usually no cold, objective inevitability to discovery or the accumulation of knowledge, no overarching logic that controls or determines events. . . . One has ideas, does experiments, meets »