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In thinking about the history of the laser and the strong and varied list of laser pioneers, I looked up the etymology of the word “pioneer” and discovered an early and somewhat humble origin. According to a pedestalled unabridged dictionary in our office, the word derives from the old French, peonier, or foot soldier. Before associations of dusty individuals who settled the American West, the word’s early use suggested the pioneer was a skilled individual in possession of specific intellectual capabilities — 1a: peonier: a member of a military unit usu. of engineers equipped and trained esp. for road building, bridging, demolitions.
Considering the nearly 60 years of laser innovations this issue explores, the…READ MORE