At the request of the organizers of the SPIE International Symposium on Optical Science and Technology, which was held in San Diego, CA, on 3–8 August 2003, I gave an after-dinner speech at the Symposium Banquet. I spoke about my collaboration with Max Born, a half century earlier. The talk followed closely an article that was originally published in Optics News 9, 10–16 (1983) and is reprinted below.
The editor of this volume, Dr. Tomasz Jannson, asked me to add some remarks about the early days of holography and coherence that might be of special interest to the reader. The brief remarks that follow were written in response to this request.
Max Born knew well the inventor of holography, Dennis Gabor, and because of it, we learned about Gabor’s invention long before the great discovery became generally known and appreciated. In fact, Principles of Optics was, I believe, the first book in which the principles of holography were explained. Gabor was very pleased that our book presented an account of his invention, as will become evident on reading the article that follows.
The subject of coherence was, at the time of my collaboration with Max Born, in its infancy. I became aware of it when I was working on the chapter concerning interference for our book. The theory of interference, as described in optics textbooks of that time, dealt mainly with monochromatic waves, not with wavefields that randomly fluctuate. These more complicated waves, which, in general, are partially coherent, can be adequately described only in statistical terms. While attempting to develop in our book a more satisfactory treatment of interference by using elementary statistical concepts, I was able to introduce a more realistic treatment of interference. It was a very fortunate coincidence that only a year after our book was published, the first lasers were developed, which triggered great interest in questions concerning the coherence of light.
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