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Laser creator Charles Townes dies

A top scientist behind the invention of the laser has died in California.

The University of California, Berkeley, where Charles Townes was a professor emeritus, said the 99 year old had been in poor health before he died on the way to an Oakland hospital on Tuesday.

Prof Townes, a Nobel laureate in physics, did most of the work that would make him one of three scientists to share the 1964 Nobel Prize in physics for research leading to the creation of the laser while he was a faculty member at Columbia University.

His research applied the microwave technique used in wartime radar research to the study of spectroscopy, the dispersion of an object's light into its component colours.

Later in his career, Prof Townes earned both praise and scorn for a series of speeches investigating the similarities between science and religion.

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