Peter Franken recalls hearing Gould’s exciting ideas

Interviewed by Joan Bromberg, 1985

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The pivotal event for me actually was when I learned of Gordon Gould's — or the notion I attributed to Gordon Gould—of using a Fabry-Pérot resonator. Up until then I was thinking along the lines of my toilet training at Columbia, which would have suggested just building a microwave cavity with a hole in it, and trying to get it to resonate at optical frequencies. But when Gordon at some conference (I always forget the date) told me he was going to use a Fabry-Pérot, it was like a blinding light bulb; I realized, my God, you could get parallel light as well as monochromatic light, and the full significance of it then occurred to me. And so I was excited about it, and indeed in the late fifties I lectured on the subject. We didn’t have lasers then but I could still give lectures about them, and I was one of the cadre of young atomic physicists, spectroscopist types in the fifties, the late fifties, because of the work I was doing at Michigan, who were really very excited and interested in the potential of having a laser.