May 2010 issue of Physics World marks the 50th anniversary of the invention of the laser, and can be freely downloaded.
This issue celebrates what has been one of the outstanding success stories in physics. We take a look at the laser’s huge impact on popular culture (think Goldfinger and laser-art shows) and on everyday life (DVDs, laser pointers, bar-code scanners). We also relive the race to build the world’s first working laser – a story still laced with controversy. Find out about the technological impact of lasers in fibre optics and at the quest for green-wavelength laser diodes that could let mobile phones project images onto any surface. Basic research gets a look-in, too – in terms of both ultrahigh power and ultrafast lasers. Don’t miss our special timeline of laser history and see what you think of our six experts’ predictions for where laser science will go next.