As part of the commencement ceremonies on May 15th, the Berkeley Physics Class of 2016 officially dedicated a new bench in honor of the late Professor Emeritus and Nobel Laureate Charles Townes, who passed away in January 2015.
Joining Senior Class officers Kelly Backes, Ivan Aguilar, Kathryn Chu and Isabella Urdinaran for the special event was his widow, Frances Townes.
The students proposed the idea for a memorial bench in honor of the epiphany Townes had in 1951 while sitting on a park bench in Washington D.C.
When telling the story years later, Townes would often recall how he was struck with a solution to a long-standing problem of how to create a pure beam of short-wavelength, high frequency light. It was a solution that lead to the development of the laser, and his 1964 Nobel Prize.
Visitors to the courtyard just outside Le Conte and Birge Halls are encouraged to sit and have their own memorable moment and perhaps change the world.
Two special plaques on the new 8 foot bench read as follows:
This bench is dedicated to Charles H. Townes
1964 Nobel Laureate and Professor Emeritus, Physics
in honor of his 1951 epiphany on a Washington D.C. park bench that led to the invention of the laser
The 2016 Berkeley Physics Senior Class invites you to sit and contemplate.
May your time in this courtyard lead to your own epiphany moment.
The 2016 bench is the first class gift given to the department to honor time spent at Berkeley. With the help of all graduating seniors, approximately $5,000 was raised for the project.
Congratulations Class of 2016!