Charles Hard Townes (July 28, 1915 – January 27, 2015) was an American physicist and inventor of the maser and laser. Townes worked on the theory and application of the maser, for which he obtained the fundamental patent, and other work in quantum electronics associated with both maser and laser devices. He shared the Nobel Prize in Physics during 1964 with Nikolay Basov and Alexander Prokhorov. Charles was an advisor to the United States Government, meeting every US President from Harry Truman (1945) to Bill Clinton (1999).
He directed the US government Science and Technology Advisory Committee for the Apollo flights, which was effective at making the program a success on schedule without exceeding its budget. After becoming a professor of the University of California at Berkeley during 1967, he began an astrophysical program that produced several important discoveries, for example the black hole at the center of the Milky Way Galaxy.
Townes was religious and believed that science and religion are converging to provide a greater understanding of the nature and purpose of the universe.