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Golden Goose Awards Honor 'Silly' Science
Jeanna Bryner, LiveScience Managing Editor
Science that's seemingly silly — but is actually significant — received some enchanted recognition recently. Discoveries involving glowing jellyfish, radiation waves and tropical coral have garnered the first Golden Goose Awards Thursday (Sept. 13) night.
A project considered frivolous — to the point where then Columbia University professor Charles Townes' colleagues told him they thought it was a waste of the university's money — led the way to the invention of the laser. In 1953, after work trying to generate a stream of microwaves through contact with an "energized" electron, Townes, James Gordon and H.J. Zeiger built the first maser (microwave amplification by stimulated emission of radiation). Further work laid the groundwork for the development of lasers and ultimately the basis of countless technologies, including digital media, CDs, satellite broadcasting, laser eye surgery and other innovations. (The NSF and U.S. Navy funded Townes' research.)

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