Scientist With "Religious Vision" Wins Templeton Prize

NEW YORK, MARCH 13, 2005 ( Charles Townes, whose inventions include the maser and laser, and who has spent decades as an advocate for the convergence of science and religion, has won the 2005 Templeton Prize.

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The prize, valued at more than $1.5 million, went to the retired professor from the University of California at Berkeley. A 1964 Nobel laureate in physics, Townes is a member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.

In statements on Vatican Radio, Townes said that when he received the Nobel Prize, scientists criticized him for his interest in religion, but he added that now the atmosphere has changed and there is greater interest in the «religious vision.»

«My religiosity is something totally natural and personal, and I almost would have preferred that it not be known, but someone asked me to speak about it precisely because there are few scientists who go to church,» he added.

Townes developed the maser, a device that amplifies electromagnetic waves, and later co-invented the laser, which amplifies and directs light waves into parallel direct beams.

Philanthropist Sir John Templeton founded the Templeton Prize, for progress toward research or discoveries about spiritual realities, in 1972.

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