Photo: U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Steve Roeper, a 107th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron weapons load crew member, performs a rack inspection and cleaning on a U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt close air support aircraft at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Dec. 2, 2011. The A-10 can employ a wide variety of conventional munitions, including general purpose bombs, cluster bomb units, laser guided bombs and others. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Corey Hook)
The Air Force has many claims to fame, including some that you may not know about. Lasers are a part of USAF’s history and a part of your everyday life. We’re taking a little bit of time to show some respect for lasers during the 50th anniversary of the first laser.
In a recent DODLive Bloggers Roundtable, Dr. Howard Schlossberg, Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, discussed the year-long celebration LaserFest, which has been showcasing the development of the laser, advancements in laser technology, and the applications of lasers.
AFOSR is involved in nascent laser research by providing necessary funding to researchers in academia and some small businesses. For the past 50 years or so, AFOSR has sponsored research that involves lasers, some of which have led to inventions.
“So much of the fundamental work that’s been done in the country has been sponsored by the Air Force,” Princeton Professor Richard Miles said. “This is the mechanism by which many of those of us in the research community and academia do our fundamental long-range research.”
Experimental work is being done using lasers to detect IEDs, but the results are not perfect and will take more years of work. Air Force-funded laser research not only helps the warfighter, but also everyday life. For example, optical coherence tomography is used to detect eye disease, and lasers are used to correct imperfections in the production of LCD TVs.
“For me, over 48 years of a professional career, that’s been the excitement of the whole field, the interplay between the advancement of laser technology and the advancement of things you can do with lasers,” Schlossberg said.
Currently, Dr. Schlossberg is a program manager for laser and optical physics at AFOSR, and some fascinating trivia you should know is that he knows the actual inventor of the first laser. Schlossberg’s educational pedigree is truly interesting. Besides attending the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Schlossberg’s advisor, Ali Javan, was the inventor of the first continuous wave laser, and Javan’s advisor was the inventor of the laser, Charles Towne.
“I was Ali’s first student. He didn’t trust his own judgment, so he sent me to Professor Townes… to make sure I was OK. Somehow, Professor Townes said I was OK,” Schlossberg commented.
For the complete DODLive Bloggers Roundtable on lasers, visit DODLive.