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The Science of Light and Lasers | Szydlo's At Home Science

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Channel: The Royal Institution
Categories: Physics   |   Science  
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The laser is a key part of so much of our modern world, from fibre-optic cabling to eye surgery.

The origin story of lasers goes all the way back to the pioneering work of Isaac Newton. Join Andrew as he spins a tale of the the study of light and lasers, from Newton's prisms to the Nobel prize winning laser photochemistry of George Porter.

Andrew would like to thank Steve Conduit, physics technician at Highgate School, and Jonathan Ryder, precision engineer, for their considerable help in the preparation and explanation of the demonstrations on this talk.

00:00 - Introduction
03:50 - What is a laser?
06:28 - Newton and the prism
09:42 - The wave theory of light
10:50 - Everyday types of light
14:41 - Young and diffraction
16:24 - Dalton's atomic theory
17:50 - Lines in the solar spectrum
20:00 - Faraday and electromagnetism
22:45 - The spectroscope and spectral analysis
29:14 - Matter and light
35:20 - Crookes' radiometer
39:12 - JJ Thompson and the electron
41:29 - Planck's constant
45:08 - Albert Einstein and the photoelectric effect
47:25 - Looking inside the atom
50:54 - Exciting electrons and the laser
53:00 - Metastability
54:45 - The first lasers
56:20 - A modern gas laser

Andrew Szydlo is a chemist and secondary school teacher at Highgate School, well-loved by pupils and Ri attendees alike. He has given public lectures around the country, been featured on TV shows and has become a popular regular face on our channel.

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