The word "LASER" has become a household word, but it didn't start out as a word.  It is actually an acronym for:

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Amplification by the


Emission of






First, let's discuss the properties of laser light and then we will go into how it is created. Laser light is monochromatic, directional, and coherent.



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The light emitted from a laser is monochromatic, that is, it is of one wavelength (color).  In contrast, ordinary white light is a combination of many different wavelengths (colors).


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Lasers emit light that is highly directional.  Laser light is emitted as a relatively narrow beam in a specific direction.  Ordinarycandle2.jpg (27097 bytes) light, such as coming from the sun, a light bulb, or a candle, is emitted in many directions away from the source.

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The light from a laser is said to be coherent, which means the wavelengths of the laser light are in phase in space and time. 

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These three properties of laser light are what make it more of a hazard than ordinary light.  Laser light can deposit a great deal of energy within a very small area - as James Bond nearly found out in Goldfinger!