Incidental: Lasers, masers & tasers

This morning my [now] eleven year old housemate informed me that the word ‘laser’ is actually an acronym (rather than a term in or of itself).

A quick internet search revealed that this is, indeed, the case. L.a.s.e.r. is actually an acronym of ‘Light Amplification by the Stimulated Emission of Radiation.‘ After sniggering about ‘stimulated emissions’ for a while I also learnt that lasers were originally referred to as ‘optical masers’, where ‘Maser’ is an acronym of ‘Microwave Amplification by the Stimulated Emission of Radiation’.

I then thought – given ‘laser’ and ‘maser’ – that ‘taser’ must be an associated acronym. Wrong. But funny wrong. The Taser was invented by a man named Jack Cover. The trademark name of this horrible weapon is actually an acronym of ‘Thomas A. Swift’s Electric Rifle.’ ‘Thomas Swift and His Electric Rifle’ was a young adult novel published in 1911, written by Victor Appleton. Apparently Jack Cover was a fan.

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