Charles Hard Townes (1915 – 2015) was an American physicist. Townes worked on the theory and application of the maser, for which he obtained the fundamental patent, and other work in quantum electronics associated with both maser and laser devices. He shared the 1964 Nobel Prize in Physics with Nikolay Basov and Alexander Prokhorov. Townes was an adviser to the United States Government, meeting every US president from Harry S. Truman (1945) to Bill Clinton (1999).
In addition to his devotion to science, he was also fascinated by the intersection of religion and science. In his 1966 article, “The Convergence of Science and Religion,” he speculated about ways that science and religion could interact and enlighten each other. He received the Templeton prize in 2005 for his work. Townes firmly believed that religious faith was not incompatible with scientific exploration of the cosmos, and he was respectful of all religions. He argued for the “convergence of science and religion” — in his view, although each used very different methods, science and religion were similarly motivated by a desire to understand the mysteries of existence.
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