Elsa Garmire Recalls the Origins of Laser Light Shows (‘Science Friday’)

Elsa Garmire’s artistic experiments with lasers in the 1970s inspired the laser light shows that became all the rage in that decade. Garmire, the Sydney E. Junkins 1887 Professor of Engineering at Thayer School of Engineering, talks about the origins of her work in a segment on the public radio show Science Friday called “When Laser Science Was ‘Far Out.’ ”

Garmire didn’t patent her work, she says, believing that people should be able to create their own light shows at home. She even gave instructions in a “how-to” television demonstration in 1971. The light shows, which became popular in planetariums nationwide, were often accompanied by music, at first classical, and then the rock music of the era, including bands such as Pink Floyd.

Recalls Garmire, “I loved the classical music. When they switched to the rock music, that’s when I decided to absent myself.”

Listen to the full interview, published 4/22/16, on Science Friday.