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Lasers in Alaska

Date and Time:

Richard Collins
Professor & Associate Director
UAF Geophysical Institute

When the first working laser was reported in 1960, it was described as "a solution looking for a problem." Before long the laser's distinctive qualities—its ability to generate an intense, very narrow beam of light of a single wavelength—were being harnessed for science, technology and medicine. Today, lasers are everywhere: from research laboratories at the cutting edge of quantum physics to medical clinics, supermarket checkouts and the telephone network. In Alaska, lasers are outdoors and take measurements from below the sea surface to the edge of space. Measurements include that of noctilucent clouds in the upper atmosphere, the meteorology of the middle atmosphere, forest fire smoke, fish, oil spills, and terrestrial mapping. This talk will present some of these applications of lasers on the Last Frontier.