Optical SETI: “The classic paper published in Nature that started it all”
SCHWARTZ, Robert N. & TOWNES, Charles H. Interstellar and Interplanetary Communication by Optical Masers
Washington, February 27, 1961
14 pp. Mimeograph, printed rectos only, stapled. Light browning. Very good.
PRE-PUBLICATION RARITY. “The classic paper published in Nature that started it all” (coseti.org), this is the founding work of optical SETI. This pre-publication form is dated more than a month before the article’s publication in Nature. For years SETI research focused on radio transmissions, but the development of powerful lasers has made Optical SETI (OSETI) a highly promising area of research. Townes’s prescient proposal is even the more remarkable given the very limited power of masers and lasers at the time this paper appeared.
Charles Hard Townes, Nobel Prize-winning physicist, is most famous for his work on the theory and application of the maser, on which he received the fundamental patent, and other work in quantum electronics connected with both maser and laser devices. He shared the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1964 with Nikolay Basov and Alexander Prokhorov “for fundamental work in the field of quantum electronics, which has led to the construction of oscillators and amplifiers based on the maser-laser principle.”
Provenance: David Katcher, founding editor of Physics Today, with the notation “Mr. Katcher” at the top of the first page.