Ali Javan comments on credit for discoveries

Interviewed by Jeff Hecht, 1985

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I think at the end priority does not establish, really, achievement to be recognized as any major contribution of any one person. It cannot really. Who said what first. What is important is originality, and carrying the work through beyond even the original conception. That is what is important. Even the original conception, it can have only — get you so much towards, really, an achievement. Beyond the conception — making it happen...

Charlie Townes, I think his work in masers is original. As original as could be. And not only his suggestion is what one puts the value towards his achievement, but the fact that he went ahead and did it and then carried on to the next step, and the next step and the next step and the one that led to lasers. That is what counts.