The feature article “Bell Labs and the Ruby Laser” is marvelous. As a brand new assistant professor at the time, I learned of the events described via Physical Review Letters and the physics grapevine. It was an exciting time. And the article demonstrates how messy the progress of physics can be. Physics is done by human beings, not automatons.

I cannot resist noting one unmentioned aspect of the times. In all the laboratory pictures, the physicists at work were wearing dress shirts and neckties. That might have been the Bell Labs dress code, but I don’t think so. It’s a superficial indicator of how times have changed.